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Global Harvest Initiative Calls For The Removal of Trade Barriers in Policy Paper Addressing Global Hunger and Food Security
On May 9, the Global Harvest Initiative published the second of five issue briefs outlining policies to sustainably increase the rate of agricultural productivity and address hunger and food security in anticipation of a global population surge to over nine billion people by 2050.
The issue brief, “Removing Barriers to Global and Regional Trade in Agriculture,” highlights the critical importance of improving food and agricultural trade flows to counter the impact on agricultural supply resulting from changing weather patterns, urban population shifts, and limitations of water, land and inputs, among other factors.
“Today the balance between agricultural supply and demand is dangerously close, which increases market volatility and the potential for localized or regional events to have global impact on food security. To sustainably meet future demand, we must address counterproductive trade policies including export restrictions, high tariffs and restrictive quotas on food imports, and restrictive import measures on equipment and modern technology that would improve agricultural productivity worldwide,” said Charles “Joe” O’Mara, a GHI consultative partner who served as the Counsel for International Affairs and Chief Negotiator for Agriculture to U.S. Secretaries of Agriculture Madigan and Espy and was responsible for negotiating the agriculture provisions of the Uruguay Round World Trade Organization negotiations.
“The urgency of hunger issues and food insecurity today is perhaps greater than ever, and these already notable challenges are exacerbated by barriers and export restrictions that reduce trade in foodstuffs,” said Susan Sechler, Managing Director of TransFarm Africa, a GHI consultative partner. “Uninhibited trade flows allow agricultural surpluses to reach areas of critical need that are just a border away in some cases. On the other hand, trade restrictions amplify price volatility, leading to hoarding and even higher prices. Trade barriers have the greatest consequence on the nearly one billion people worldwide who are struggling with hunger and malnutrition, and short-term, stopgap policies cause years or decades of damage to developing nations.”
The policy issue brief also proposes recommendations for eliminating trade barriers including a more active leadership role by the U.S. Government in finalizing and expediting multilateral, bilateral, and regional trade agreements; currently, there are trade agreements pending enactment by the U.S. with South Korea, Panama, and Columbia, and negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership are ongoing and should be expedited. Encouraging and strengthening these trade agreements will result in increased market access and the more efficient production of agricultural goods, thereby greatly improving the state of global food security and agricultural productivity.
GHI also recommends launching an international agreement on Global Food Security through the WTO to heighten international attention on the necessity of enhancing global food security and calls for the use of capacity building and technical assistance programs to improve supply chains, increase farmers’ access to markets, and improve capacity to comply with trade rules and regulations.
Acknowledging the recent concern voiced by some groups about the potential of the WTO Doha Development Round negotiations to productively continue, GHI holds firmly to its belief that significant progress can be made to improve the flow of trade and agriculture through the WTO, and that finalization of the Doha Development Round should continue to be pursued.
GHI’s first issue brief addressing the importance of improving agricultural research was released on April 20, 2011. Subsequent GHI issue briefs will address development assistance, science-based technologies and private investment.
Read the full issue brief: Removing Barriers to Global and Regional Trade in Agriculture.