the COVID-19 Pandemic with Open and Predictable Trade
in Agricultural and Food Products
Statement from: Australia;
Brazil; Canada; Chile; colombia; Costa Rica;
European Union; hong kong, China; Japan; Republic of Korea; Malawi;
Mexico; New Zealand; Paraguay; Peru; Qatar; Singapore; Switzerland;
the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu;
Ukraine; United kingdom; UNITED STATES; and uruguay
The following joint statement, dated 22 April 2020, is being circulated at the request of the delegation of Canada.
1.1. The COVID-19 pandemic is a global issue that requires a coordinated global response. We recognize that first and foremost the world is facing a global health crisis and the immediate focus of Members should be on efforts to ensure the health and safety of their citizens while laying the groundwork for a strong economic recovery. As many global leaders have indicated international cooperation across different fields is crucial to weathering the COVID-19 pandemic. As Members take measures to address the pandemic, it is imperative that these measures do not adversely affect trade in agriculture and agri-food products which would ultimately have negative impacts on the food security, nutrition and health of Members and their populations. We support the call to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on agriculture trade and food security made on 31 March by the Director Generals of the WTO, FAO, and WHO.
1.2. Collectively, we account for 63% of global exports of agriculture and agri-food products and 55% of global imports of agriculture and agri-food products. We underscore the importance of maintaining agriculture supply chains and preserving the ability of Members to import agriculture and agri-food products to meet their domestic needs. Maintaining effective transport and logistical services will be crucial to the proper functioning of the food supply chain. We encourage Members to implement temporary working solutions to facilitate trade, such as allowing scanned copies or electronic copies of original certificates whenever it is not possible to present the original paper certificate, provided the authenticity of these certificates can be validated by competent authorities.
1.3. The application of export restrictions and similar trade restrictive measures on agriculture and agri-food products create an unpredictable trading environment that would adversely affect food availability and result in price spikes, increased price volatility, and leads to shortages of important food products. The adoption by many Members of successive export restrictive measures to secure their own food security would lead to a widespread food insecurity crisis due to the disruption in global agricultural trade supply chains. It is also important to avoid food loss and waste caused by supply chain disruptions, which could exacerbate food security risks and economic loss. In addition, supply chains for key agriculture inputs must remain open to help ensure existing production levels are maintained.