South Asia need freer trade to have food security: policy advocate

July 5, 2013 (LBO) – South Asian countries could improve food security by avoiding export restrictions in food and increases in overall trade will also help reduce poverty, a regional policy advocate said. Banning exports of food to neighboring countries and the rest of the world whenever prices go up should be avoided, Bipul Chatterjee, deputy executive director, Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) International, based in Jaipur said.

He was speaking at a forum on climate change and food security organized by the South Asia Watch on Trade, Economics and Environment (SAWTEE), Kathmandu, and Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka.

Chatterjee said India had in the recent past stopped onion exports and there were instances where rice exports were also restricted.

Shortly before the 2008 commodity bubble collapsed, countries ranging from Vietnam to India restricted rice exports.

Food exports restrictions were imposed by the US as the dollar went off the gold standard in 1971 (the Nixon shock), as oil and gold prices hit new highs due to bad monetary policy by the US Federal Reserve which weakened the dollar.

The US lifted the restrictions within six months after classical econ