Poor nations seek exemption from food export bans

Tue Apr 5, 2011 2:52pm GMT

*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...

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