April 1: Food supply chains must be protected from any trade-related measures taken during the COVID-19 pandemic, the heads of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and UN food and health agencies said on Tuesday, warning of possible shortages and price spikes.
According to Reuters, they voiced concern that disruptions to the movement of agricultural and food industry workers or food containers could result in the spoilage of perishables and increasing food waste and said protectionism was also a risk.
"Uncertainty about food availability can spark a wave of export restrictions, creating a shortage on the global market," Reuters quoted WTO director-general Roberto Azevedo, and the heads of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization Qu Dongyu as saying.
"Such reactions can alter the balance between food supply and demand, resulting in price spikes and increased price volatility."
The joint statement added that such measures are particularly damaging to low-income and food-deficit countries, according to Reuters.
Azevedo said last week that WTO projections show the economic downturn and job losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic would be worse than the 2008 recession.