Think Piece

Trade and Food Security

December 2013
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The evolving food security agenda offers governments a chance to address some urgent concerns and strengthen the multilateral trade system. The Doha Agenda has been overtaken by time and events. Many of the lessons for food security of the past decade point to the need for new rules. International markets have seen three food commodity price spikes, and the financial collapse of 2008 and the resulting turmoil in international trade and financial markets has left its mark. Governments have been reluctant at the World Trade Organization to confront the implications of these changes. Many developed countries are advocating a “new” trade agenda (around investment, stronger intellectual property rights, and services), which are contentious issues for most developing countries. Most developing countries insist that nothing new should be added to the negotiating agenda until the Doha Agenda (in some form) is agreed. The impasse has yet to be resolved. Yet there are quite a few issues on which governments could advance if they were to focus on confidence-building, and ensuring that they can protect their food security interests while working within a multilateral trading system.

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