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FAO report on agricultural trade and policy responses during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Measures adopted around the world to contain the COVID-19 outbreak helped curb the spread of the virus and lowered the pressure on health systems. However, they also affected the global trading system, and the supply and demand of agricultural and food products. In response to concerns over food security and food safety worldwide, many countries reacted immediately to apply policy measures aiming to limit potentially adverse impacts on domestic markets.

Covering the first half of 2020, the report provides an overview of short-term changes in trade patterns and policy measures related to agricultural trade that countries adopted in response to the pandemic. Despite the shocks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and containment measures, the efforts of governments and agricultural sector stakeholders to keep agricultural markets open and trade flowing smoothly contributed to remarkably resilient value chains. Effects on global trade in food and agriculture remained limited to short-term disruptions at the very beginning of the pandemic.

Governments’ policy responses covered a wide range of measures, including export restrictions, lowering of import barriers, and domestic measures. Most of the trade restricting measures were short-lived. International political commitments were pivotal in the coordination of a global response to the crisis and in deterring countries from taking unilateral measures that could have harmed food security in other parts of the world. However, COVID-19 is still spreading and may entail severe implications for access to food and longer-term shifts in global demand and supply of food and agricultural commodities.

Download the report here.

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