Continuing to browse our website indicates your consent to our use of cookies. For more information, see our Privacy policy.

What we are reading

On watch: global food security and inflation

Published 18 May 2022

Will export restrictions worsen global food insecurity? Can lifting tariffs help ease inflation? Is deglobalization picking up pace? Has Putin’s war helped smooth EU-US tensions over trade and technology? Explore these questions and more in What we are reading, our list of reports and analysis of global trade.

Geopolitics and critical supply chains

Fertilizer and grain production has been compromised by war, the pandemic, and weather events. Now countries are adopting export restrictions to keep supplies at home. How will these measures impact global food supplies? Can the world feed itself, Bloomberg asks. What are the implications of Brazil’s decision to buy Russian fertilizer, the New York Times reports. The uptick in protectionist measures to restrict food exports is covered by the Financial Times. Case in point: India’s export restrictions on wheat, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.  

Mentioned Publications

  1. Can the World Feed Itself? Historic Fertilizer Crunch Threatens Food Security– Elizabeth Elkin and Samuel Gebre, Bloomberg, 1 May 2022
    Fertilizer supplies are short and prices are at all-time highs. Farmers are limiting fertilizer use, affecting yields. What impact will this have on agricultural trade and food security?
  2. Good News for Food, Bad News for War: Brazil Buys Russian Fertilizer - Jack Nicas and André Spigariol, The New York Times, 8 May 2022
    Competing pressures force economies to decide between food security and coercive measures against Russia.
  3. Food protectionism fuels global inflation and hunger - Oliver Telling, Benjamin Parkin and Emiko Terazono Financial Times, 10 May 2022
    23 countries have adopted protectionist measures, like export controls, to restrict food exports. What are the implications for food insecurity around the world?
  4. India Bans Wheat Exports, Putting More Pressure on Global Food Supplies – Vibhuti Agarwal, The Wall Street Journal, 14 May 2022
    With global wheat supplies already under stress and India’s crop under strain from extreme heat, the world’s second biggest wheat producer restricts exports.  

🠕 Back to top

Competing priorities: tariffs and inflation

The Biden Administration is attempting to take a new approach by adopting a “worker-centric” trade policy, along with more protectionist measures than anticipated. Does this approach spell the end for globalization?  Biden’s trade policy leads the US away from globalization, Politico argues. Meanwhile, Edward Alden in Foreign Policy warns of the dangers of anti-globalization. This policy approach cannot solve America’s inequality problems at once, writes Alan Beattie in the Financial Times. US trade policy risks alienating Asian trading partners at a critical moment, Bloomberg explains. 

Can lifting tariffs help ease inflation?  An internal debate in the Biden Administration over this question continues, according to the Wall Street Journal. In Foreign Policy, Michael Hirsh wonders whether Biden is fighting the last war on trade. 

Will anti-dumping measures on solar panels stifle efforts to combat climate change? The Washington Post explores how a Commerce investigation is harming the US solar industry. 

On digital trade, can the US move forward with proposals to engage Southeast Asian partners in this arena?  The digital trade environment in six Southeast Asian economies is examined in a study by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. 

Mentioned Publications

  1. Biden’s trade team: RIP globalization - Gavin Bade, Politico, 8 May 2022 
    Biden’s attempts to formulate a new path for trade policy are leading the US away from globalization. 
  2. The Dangerous New Anti-Globalization Consensus – Edward Alden, Foreign Policy, 3 May 2022 
    Unprecedented challenges are leading critics of globalization to draw the wrong conclusions about how  to best address inflation and supply chain disruptions. 
  3. Biden’s No-Show on Trade Deals Risks Isolating Friends in Asia - Bloomberg News, 12 May 2022 
    Southeast Asian nations are frustrated with the lack of substance in US trade policy toward Asia. 
  4. Trade policy cannot fix America’s inequality problem – Alan Beattie, Op-ed: Financial Times, 11 May 2022 
    America’s trade policy makers are trying to resolve too many problems with the tools they have available. 
  5. Biden Officials Divided Over Easing China Tariffs to Slow Inflation - Andrew Duehren, Yuka Hayashi and Alex Leary, The Wall Street Journal, 3 May 2022 
    Can lifting tariffs help tame inflation, and is doing so worth the cost of longer-term trade policy goals? 
  6. Is Biden Fighting the Last War on Trade? – Michael Hirsh, Foreign Policy, 5 May 2022 
    Biden Administration's trade policy is beset by internal disagreements over approaches and now delays on lifting tariffs may worsen inflation. 
  7. White House alarmed that Commerce probe is ‘smothering’ solar industry – Evan Halper and Jeff Stein, The Washington Post, 7 May 2022 
    One small company’s petition shuts down US solar panel imports from major foreign suppliers, stalling efforts to combat climate change. 
  8. The Indo-Pacific Economic Framework and Digital Trade in Southeast Asia – Andreyka Natalegawa and Gregory B. Poling, Center for Strategic and International Studies, 5 May 2022 
    To develop the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, the US should take into account the unique challenges of the digital economy and technology trade in Southeast Asia.  

🠕 Back to top

Sanctions and tech cooperation 

Russia has faced more than two months of sanctions. Are the sanctions working and how should they evolve? Western nations have got the Russia sanctions wrong, argues Arvind Subramanian and Josh Felman in Project Syndicate. Meanwhile a searchable database on all sanctions against Russian entities are made available by the Atlantic Council. 

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine may be helping the US and the EU break new barriers in cooperation over trade and technology. The accomplishments and challenges of the US-EU Trade and Technology Council, due to meet this week, are outlined by the Economist. 

Mentioned Publications 

  1. The West Has Got Its Russia Sanctions Wrong – Arvind Subramanian and Josh Felman, Project Syndicate, 10 May 2022
    Policy makers must consider whether current sanctions strategies truly serve their interests, or whether there are better ways to achieve the same goal.
  2. Global Sanctions Dashboard: Russia and beyond – Charles Lichfield, Maia Nikoladze, Sophia Busch and Castellum.AI, The Atlantic Council, 9 May 2022
    A searchable database collating all sanctioned entities with analysis of the latest on Russia’s economy.
  3. The war in Ukraine is spurring transatlantic co-operation in techThe Economist, 14 May 2022
    The US-EU Trade and Technology Council is becoming a key channel for transatlantic US-EU cooperation, enabling breakthroughs in important areas. 

🠕 Back to top

Covid-19: will a patent waiver matter?

The WTO may be nearing agreement on a patent waiver for Covid vaccines. What difference will a waiver make at this point in the pandemic?  Alan Beattie in the Financial Times describes difficult patent waiver politics underlying the proposal, released on May 3 by the WTO TRIPS Council. 

Mentioned Publications 

  1. WTO Covid patent waiver that no one wants to own – Alan Beattie, Financial Times, 9 May 2022
    A WTO Covid vaccine patent waiver proposal has finally emerged, amidst painful politics and negotiation.
  2. Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights: Communication from the ChairpersonWorld Trade Organization, 3 May 2022 

🠕 Back to top

© The Hinrich Foundation. See our website Terms and conditions for our copyright and reprint policy. All statements of fact and the views, conclusions and recommendations expressed in this publication are the sole responsibility of the author(s).