Brazilian officials warn of “agriculture nationalism” amid pandemic
As countries seek to secure national food supplies , a draft report from the Brazilian agricultural ministry has warned that countries may implement export restrictions and subsidies.
Brazilian officials expect the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak to spark a rise in global agricultural protectionism as countries seek to secure local food supplies, according to a draft report from the agriculture ministry, seen by Reuters.
The report pointed to the idea of “agriculture nationalism,” and the possibility of countries imposing export restrictions, subsidies and other policies to favour domestic agriculture industries in the aftermath of the pandemic.
Brazil is the largest exporter of soybeans, sugar, coffee, orange juice, chicken and beef, and is considered by many a competitor with the US farm sector in several products.
The draft report stated that there is likely to be more state intervention in agricultural markets going forward, and that some countries will ease restrictions when there is fear of food shortages only to “return to elevated levels of protectionism and subsidies when convenient, to stimulate domestic industry”.
“About subsidies specifically, there is the risk the pandemic will be used as an excuse for them to be deployed at disproportionately elevated levels,” the report added.
Last month, the agriculture ministry said it had gained or expanded access to eight export markets as countries sought to secure food supplies during the pandemic. The markets included Egypt, China, Morocco, Kuwait, Argentina, Colombia, Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates.
The report urged Brazil to go further in signing more trade agreements, to ensure favourable market access for its farm products. It also suggested that Brazil should strive to diversify the countries it exports to, as well as the types of products it produces.
The report also stated that Brazil should focus on emerging/evolving consumer trends, as well as enhance its food safety measures. “Food will be increasingly synonymous with health.”