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Abstract

A number of major agricultural exporting countries responded to high food prices from 2007 to 2010 by imposing export restrictions on agricultural commodities in efforts to constrain domestic food-price inflation. These restrictions reduced the volume of internationally traded food, and exacerbated international price spikes. Net food importing countries were faced with growing import bills, and non-governmental organisations that target food security had to scale back programme commitments and appeal for increased funding. There have subsequently been a chorus of calls for the development of a formal international framework that could discipline the use of agricultural export restrictions; the agreements of the WTO have been targeted as a possible forum for such a framework. We present a framework in which the efficacy of such disciplines can be analysed, and conclude that constraints on agricultural export restrictions are not likely to be effective within the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Understanding.

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