HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Case Western Reserve University School of Law

Monday, February 6, 2023

Combatting a Crisis of Global Food Protectionism Sparked by the War in Ukraine

Daniel C. K. Chow (Ohio State University), Ian Sheldon (Ohio State University), Combatting a Crisis of Global Food Protectionism Sparked by the War in Ukraine, Ohio St. Legal Stud. Res. Paper 753 (2023):

The world is currently gripped in a food crisis of historic proportions that is threatening tens of millions of people in the poorest countries of the world with famine and starvation. Sparked by the war in Ukraine, this crisis is being made worse by nations imposing export restrictions on food in a misguided attempt to curb soaring domestic food prices. Export restrictions are “beggar thy neighbor” policies that prevent increases in domestic food prices but at the expense of raising world prices, exacerbating the crisis.

Although nations have turned to the World Trade Organization (WTO) for help in removing these export restrictions, the WTO is currently an organization in disarray that lacks the legal tools and the political will to effectively address this global crisis. Unlike the WTO, many free trade agreements (FTAs) such as the United States-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, contain effective legal tools to curb export restrictions on food.

At the moment, FTAs are proliferating all over the world and have now displaced the WTO as the most effective means for eliminating or curbing export restrictions on food. It is now up to the EU and the United States, the principals of the world’s most robust FTAs, to take the lead in demonstrating how FTAs can be used to effectively to combat a catastrophic food emergency. This Article proposes an innovative solution through the use of free trade agreements by the United States and the EU to create a conduit for food exports to meet demand in world markets without a spike in prices in a time of crisis.

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