They said countries should ensure that any trade-related measures, intended to prevent spread of the virus, do not disrupt the food supply chain
The heads of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the World Health Organization (WHO) have issued a joint statement, urging governments to minimize the impact of coronavirus related border restrictions on trade of food.
“Now is the time to show solidarity, act responsibly, and adhere to our common goal of enhancing food security, food safety and nutrition, and improving the general welfare of people around the world,” the agency heads said on Tuesday.
Millions of people around the world depend on International trade for their livelihoods, said QU Dongyu, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and Roberto Azevêdo, Directors-General of FAO, WHO and WTO respectively, reports UNB.
"We must ensure that our response to Covid-19 does not unintentionally create unwarranted shortages of essential items and exacerbate hunger and malnutrition," they said.
Countries should ensure that any trade-related measures, intended to prevent spread of the virus, do not disrupt the food supply chain, the joint statement read.
Such disruptions can result in the spoilage of perishables and increase food waste, they added.
They stated that uncertainty about food availability can trigger a wave of export restrictions, creating a shortage in the global market.
"Such reactions can alter the balance between food supply and demand, resulting in price spikes and increased price volatility. We learned from previous crises that such measures are particularly damaging for low-income, food-deficit countries and to the efforts of humanitarian organizations to procure food for those in desperate need."
The DGs emphasized the need to prevent recurrence of such damaging measures. "It is at times like this that more, not less, international cooperation becomes vital. In the midst of the Covid-19 lockdowns, every effort must be made to ensure that trade flows as freely as possible, specially to avoid food shortage."
The coronavirus outbreak has so far infected 859,713 people and killed 42,340 people globally, according to Worldometer.