Poor nations seek exemption from food export bans
*Vulnerable importers want formal WTO exemption
*Proposal part of Doha trade discussions
By Andrew Callus
GENEVA, April 5 (Reuters) - Poorer countries vulnerable to soaring food prices demanded on Tuesday formal exemption under world trade rules from the export restrictions that have proliferated in recent years.
In a proposal linked to the long-running Doha round of World Trade Organization (WTO) talks, the group of net food-importing developing countries (NFDICs) said 21 food exporters were operating export restrictions last year -- a higher number than the official WTO record of four.
They said the curbs were contributing to painfully high food prices.
According to a source in the closed-door meeting, the group proposed new rules that would ensure the restrictions, often imposed to ensure supplies in home markets, did not apply to NFDICs or to least-developed countries (LDCs).
The plan, put forward by Egypt, said such bans should also be waived for any country receiving humanitarian food aid. Continued...