Aligning ARD and trade policies to improve sustainable development impact

This exploratory study seeks to analyse the ongoing debate and cooperation between ARD and trade and aid for trade departments.

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    Development partners are making efforts to strengthen coherence between their Trade and Agricultural and Rural Development (ARD) policies and interventions. This is key to enhancing synergies for sustainable development, or at the very least to avoiding one policy undermining the developmental effects of the other. It requires enhanced dialogue and cooperation between trade and ARD communities. 

    The study highlights various areas of contention between the ARD and Trade work streams of development partners. The ARD and Trade community tend to agree on general objectives like food security and employment creation but disagree on the way to achieve them. This disagreement produces an ongoing debate: which trade is good for development and which is not? Under which conditions investment can have a positive impact? Even if some convergence is taking place, ARD for long focused mostly on the production and productivity side, while the trade community prioritised (external) markets and took the production side for granted.

    Based on this analysis, the paper provides suggestions for a more effective dialogue and cooperation. It promotes a practical approach, zooming in on the ARD and Trade nexus at the national, inter-country and regional levels. It helps put into context different views and arguments, bringing together relevant actors. Once an overall objective is agreed upon, disputes over the different effects and expected outcomes of certain measures, regulations and agreements can be settled on the basis of concrete evidence.

    Only by moving away from a confrontational model, we/they thinking, towards a true, pragmatic and concrete partnership between ARD and Trade communities, will we be more effective in reaching the Sustainable Development Goals.

    This publication was issued in close cooperation with the Global Donor Platform for Rural Development. To learn more about GDPRD’s work on development investments in agriculture, food systems and rural livelihoods through informed policy and programming, please visit their website:

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