Policy Options Paper

Agriculture and Food Security: New Challenges and Options for International Policy

January 2016

New challenges are facing the global food and agriculture trading system in the 21st century. The present paper identifies options for how policies and international trade rules can respond to this new reality. It is not specifically addressed towards the ongoing negotiations of the Doha Round at the WTO, nor is there any attempt to re-define the mandate for these negotiations. The new challenges include a change in the supply-demand balance in global food and agriculture markets; large-scale use of agricultural commodities as feedstock for biofuel production; heightened market volatility; the impacts of climate change and government response; and important changes in agricultural policy regimes in major producer countries. Against this background, the paper recommends trade policy options in two areas: adapting the WTO Agreement on Agriculture and the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures; and more general WTO rules of particular importance for food and agriculture, especially with regards to environmental measures. It also puts forward options targeted at international cooperation to improve food security and foster agricultural productivity. The changing conditions on agricultural markets over the past decade have brought to the fore the need to improve food security globally. Focusing on this priority can demonstrate what international trade, and the regime governing it, can do for developing countries. At the same time, work must continue towards strengthening competitive markets, removing trade barriers and minimising policy-induced distortions while providing urgently needed public goods. Policy options that seek to act on these priorities are presented over an indicative short- to long-term time horizon.



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