Impact of COVID-19: Changing trade policy in a global pandemic - Potential implications for South Africa’s rice supply chain

Most countries around the world have responded to the spread of the coronavirus through large scale lockdowns. With the global economy coming to a near stand-still, trade in food and related essentials has been prioritised to ensure food security. However, disruptions in global supply chains are inevitable, especially given restrictions on the movement of labour, a slow-down in logistics, and stringent health inspections to ensure safe operating environments. There are fears that such disruptions, combined with policy measures instituted in major supplying countries, could lead to temporary price shocks and constraints on the availability for some of the country’s major imports such as rice, wheat and palm oil.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Food and Beverage Alliance (AFBA) (2020) has reported that Vietnam, Russia and Kazakhstan have instituted short-term trade restrictions. This was done to ensure sufficient domestic food supply during the lockdown, probably even later until COVID-19 has been contained.

The 4th in a series of briefs considering the impact of COVID-19 containment measures on the South African Food system, this brief evaluates the possible impact of dynamic global trade policy on South Africa’s rice supply chain, both in terms of availability and affordability.

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