Australia News

Export restrictions push up food prices


Export restrictions in around 24 countries globally is pushing prices and increasing food insecurity, according to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES).

The latest Insights report showed food prices have increased 65 per cent in the last two years and reached the highest level since October 2012.

Executive director of ABARES Dr Jared Greenville said there were lessons to be learnt from the 2007-08 food crisis.

“Often when there is an increase in world food prices, governments respond by placing export restrictions on their own commodities,” Dr Greenville said.

“The aim is to moderate domestic prices and ease the burden on their own populations, which is understandable in the circumstances.”

But the report found that the 2007-08 global food crisis showed export restrictions are detrimental to global food security, and provide “questionable benefits” to the domestic market. 

“Export restrictions reduce the supply of food in world markets and increase prices, creating greater incentives for other countries to restrict exports.

“For this reason, widespread export restrictions have a negative impact on global food security and hurt the poorest people who are already struggling to put food on the table.”

The report found several factors are contributing to higher global food grain prices including the Russian invasion of Ukraine, poor growing conditions in major exporter countries, and impacts of COVID.

The report concluded there had been an increase in the number of countries introducing export restrictions which could cause world prices to spiral higher.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, estimates between 720 to 811 million people faced hunger in 2020, with high food prices making conditions even more challenging.

The report said some governments have introduced export restrictions in response to rising grain prices in an attempt to ease their domestic food prices. 

“Removing export restrictions, or agreements to avoid implementing them in the first place, can help to ensure food is more available globally and increase the stability of food supplies,” Dr Greenville said.