The issue of Trade and Food Security has become central to many trade related debates and its treatment is likely to be a determining factor in the successful negotiation of any post-Bali WTO workplan. However, the issue has been interpreted in many different ways, making it difficult to determine exactly what countries are seeking when arguing for greater recognition of food security in the formulation of trade agreements. Additionally, the complex relationship between increased engagement in freer agricultural trade (often reflected in a change in trade and related policy) and food security is, in practice, conditioned by a multitude of factors, making it difficult to identify the relative merits of different approaches to managing trade and/or supporting agricultural sectors.
Building on previous work, FAO is launching a programme of work aimed at providing greater clarity to trade related debates and negotiations. The programme, which will culminate in the publication of the 2015 edition of FAO’s State of Commodity Markets (SOCO) flagship report, will be built around four interrelated workstreams:
(i) Trade and food security: what are the issues?
(ii) Conceptualizing the relationship between trade and food security
(iii) Trade and related agricultural policy supportive of improved food security
(iv) Trade agreements conducive to improved food security
Each workstream will be developed around an expert consultation in which divergent perspectives will be examined and clarified. The consultations, informed by existing and newly commissioned papers will be used as a basis for developing a series of technical notes, which will, in turn provide the basis for the State of Commodity Markets 2015.
To initiate the process, an Informal Consultation is being convened at FAO Headquarters to assist in the identification of the key issues that should be further investigated under each workstream. To facilitate discussion during the consultation, each session will include two brief presentations.