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26 June 2022

Business Insider Bangladesh

Bangladesh pushes for stopping sudden ban on food exports

BI Desk || BusinessInsider

Published: 21:58, 12 June 2022  
Bangladesh pushes for stopping sudden ban on food exports

Photo: Collected

Bangladesh on Sunday urged the global community to stop the sudden ban on export of food products.

The Bangladesh government at the opening day of the 12th Ministerial Meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) voiced that many countries of the world are now experiencing food crisis amid the global volatile situation, reports Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha. 

Since the issue of survival has become more important under the present global context, the Bangladesh government has stressed for informing the importing countries in advance in case of halting export of food and agricultural products.

Senior Secretary to the Ministry of Commerce Tapan Kanti Ghosh said this while talking to BSS after the meeting on the first day of the four-day 12th ministerial conference of the WTO began on Sunday at its headquarters at Geneva in Switzerland.

Tapan said, “We’ve raised an issue in the meeting that food deficit is being evident worldwide under the present circumstances. So, it is very much necessary not to impose any sudden export ban on essential food items. In case of halting exports, the importing countries should have to be informed within a specific timeframe.”

Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi is leading the Bangladesh delegation at the conference which will continue until June 15.

Tapan said that despite graduating from the LDC status, efforts are on so that Bangladesh and other LDC countries could continue to enjoy various duty free trade facilities for some more years.

The timeframe for Bangladesh graduating from the LDC status has already been fixed at 2026 and after that Bangladesh would not get any duty free market facility.

“So, the proposal from the LDCs given at the WTO for a duty-free trade facility is very much important for Bangladesh,” he added.

The senior commerce secretary also informed that Bangladesh sought the scope for providing subsidy in the fisheries sector since it is very much necessary to boost the skills in this sector in the developing countries.

Bangladeshi Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi in his opening speech also urged the global leaders and WTO not to put any ban on export of food items for any reasons so that any country faces any food crisis.

“Food crises along with economic downturns are imminent. Small and vulnerable economies are suffering the most. We urge members not to impose export restrictions on products which are essential for our survival, particularly relevant for our food security, public health and long-term development goals in the LDCs” Tipu said in his speech delivered at the conference meeting.

“This is painful to note that to respond to the pandemic WTO could not deliver any result till date. Some of us could not prioritise human needs over profit maximisation. I hope during the upcoming food crisis and economic recession WTO shall play its role to ensure certainty and predictability” he added.

Bangladesh along with other LDCs have been negotiating with the WTO, developed and developing countries for extension of the LDC trade facilities to the graduating LDCs for 12 years and later either for nine or six years.

The LDCs headed by the Central African country Chad have already submitted a petition to the WTO in October 2020 demanding the extension.

But, with the opposition on the issue by the US, it will be difficult to reach a positive conclusion over the issue of time extension for the LDC graduating countries like Bangladesh, the negotiators said.

Food crisis and fuel price hike became a major negotiating issue at the 12 WTO ministerial conference as many countries have already put a restriction on food items export and fuel prices have already soared globally, primarily for the global pandemic and followed by Russia and Ukraine war.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, director general of WTO, at a press conference also said the food crisis became another challenge for the world because of the Russia and Ukraine war.

However, regarding the other burning issues, Ngozi Okonjo-Iwealastrongly urged the member countries to be more cohesive to reach consensus in the areas of giving trade benefit to the graduating LDCs, extension of the TRIPs benefit to the graduating LDCs, stopping sudden ban on export of food grains.

The ministerial conference is taking place after a gap of five years since it was disrupted due to the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.