Thursday, April 24, 2008

Food & Society Memo Global Food Crisis Special Feature: Nations Throughout the World Are Curbing Food Imports to Secure Supplies and Limit Inflation

The commodity prices of the world's basic foods--rice, wheat, corn, soy and edible oils--are soaring. Rice is up about 68% since just January of this year. The cost of wheat has increased a whopping 30% over last year's prices, and the price of corn is not far behind. Soy prices are also seeing double-digit price spikes.

These price increases are just the beginning, most experts believe. As a result of these double-digit hikes, nearly every food product--from rice, bread and tortillas, to milk, eggs, cereals and pasta--is soaring at the supermarkets and food stalls of the world.

The world's stockpiles of rice, wheat and corn also are near 50-year lows.

These real price hikes, combined with the decreased stockpiles and lots of government and consumer uncertainty over the global food supply, has resulting in numerous food exporting countries curbing the quantities of basic foodstuffs they export overseas, despite the fact most of these nation's rely on food exports to bring in much needed revenue.

As we reported earlier, Asia's rice exporting countries are curbing rice exports to various degrees. However, it's not just rice exports that are being curbed, nor is it just Asian nation's that are doing the export curbing.

Rather, numerous countries throughout the world have started to limit the types and quantities of the foods the export. Below is a brief summary of some of those nations, and the types of basic foods they have started to limit in terms of exporting overseas:

Thai farmers dry rice grains at a rice farm in Suphan-Buri, Thailand. (Photo: courtesy Getty Images.) Thailand is the world's largest exporter of rice, with 31% of the global market. Last year it exported 9.4 million tons of rice, out of a total of 20 million tons produced. Thus far, unlike numerous Asian nations, Thailand hasn't imposed any import restrictions on rice.

Argentina: The nation is the world's four-largest exporter of wheat. Argentina has extended the closure of its wheat export registry by pushing back the date that new wheat shipments can start to leave the country. This has had the effect of extending the time when wheat exports scheduled to be shipped to other countries takes effect, thus creating a greater stockpile of wheat for domestic use and consumption.

Cambodia: The Southeast Asian nation has announced a two-month ban on rice exports.

Vietnam: the nation has banned all rice exports until June, 2008, at which time it says it will evaluate the policy.

Egypt: The country is banning all rice exports until October of this year.

India: India has banned exports of all varieties of rice except Basmati rice. India also has dumped the normal import duties it charges exporters on edible oils as a way to increase imports of the foodstuffs into the nation.

Indonesia: The Southeast Asian nation has stopped exporting all exports of medium-grade rice.

Pakistan: The country is more worried about the food imports it relies on than on its food exports. Currently, the nation says it needs to double its wheat imports in order to meet domestic demand. In order to generate additional income to purchase more wheat, Pakistan is considering putting a value-added fee or tax on all of the rice it exports.

Russia: The nation's government just approved extending its already high tariffs on wheat and barley exports. These tariffs were set to expire next month in May.

Ukraine: This eastern European country suspended all wheat exports for the first week of April and is considering doing so again. It also has reduced its barley exports significantly.

Kazakhstan: the nation has suspended all wheat exports until September 1, 2008.

Malawi: Malawi has halted all corn exports except those to the nearby nation of Zimbabwe.

Guinea: This less-developed county has banned the export of all agricultural, forestry, livestock, fishing and oil products.

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