WTO’s Lamy: “Trade is part of the answer, not part of the problem”

Posted by on January 31st, 2011 | 0 Comments »

On January 22 during his opening address to the Berlin Agriculture Ministers’ Summit, World Trade Organization Director-General Pascal Lamy emphasized that trade plays an important role in addressing the challenges of food insecurity and increasing global agricultural productivity. Reducing barriers to global and regional trade in agriculture is one of the Global Harvest Initiative’s five policy priorities to close the global agricultural productivity gap.

Below are select excerpts from Director-General Lamy’s remarks

“Will world food production be able to keep up with this increased demand?  There are three main sources of growth of crop production:  one, expanding the current agricultural land area; two, boosting the frequency with which that area is cropped; and, three, trying to boost actual yields (through mechanization, better irrigation, or biotechnology for example).  These are the structural long-term options that are before us.”

“But contrary to popular perception, it is not the amount of new land that is brought into cultivation that will be the determinative factor of growth in production but, rather, increasing yields.  In fact, over the past four decades, rising yields alone have accounted for 70 percent of the increase in crop production in the developing world the progress we make in our agricultural productivity will therefore be central to continued food security. “

“Having looked at the various factors that influence production and consumption, we must now turn to what it is that links them. At the global level, the link is established through international trade. Trade becomes the transmission belt through which supply adjusts to demand. It allows food to travel from the land of the plenty to the land of the few.  When that transmission belt is disrupted through trade barriers, unexpected turbulence arises on the market. “

“We must also recognize that bad weather events, natural catastrophes, and climate change in the medium to long-term, will all collaborate to inject uncertainty into the supply-side picture. It will make the creation of social safety nets for consumers and farmers, and research into climate-resistant crops, paramount.” 

“To put it simply, trade plays or can play a better role in addressing the rise in food prices and tackling food insecurity.  Trade is part of the solution, and not part of the problem.”

View Director-General Pascal Lamy’s full address at the 2011 Berlin Agriculture Ministers’ Summit.

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