The coronavirus outbreak has affected trade in food and farm goods, imperiling efforts to reduce hunger and malnutrition and adding to pressure already on the farm sector from climate change. The pandemic-induced postponement of the WTO’s next ministerial conference and ongoing tensions among major economies have affected both the substance and process of updating the global trade rulebook. As governments revisit priorities in this new context, they should engage with various constituencies in their region and beyond to build an inclusive public policy vision – one that can contribute to economic recovery and improve resilience to future food system shocks.
In Africa, continentwide economic integration under the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) will transform food and agricultural markets, with policymakers focused on increased value addition and value chain integration. Tariff and nontariff measures continue to affect trade in Africa’s agrifood sector, while the prevalence of informal trade makes it difficult for policymakers to access timely and accurate data. While food demand in urban areas will continue to grow and evolve, small producers in rural areas face serious obstacles in accessing markets and boosting yields sustainably. The increase in extreme weather events associated with climate change presents particular challenges and requires new thinking to ensure that trade policies and rules support improved resilience.
This will be the third in a series of events on the same topic, each with a regional perspective. The events will cover Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
- Doaa Abdel-Motaal, Senior Counsellor, WTO Agriculture and Commodities Division
- David Laborde Debucquet, Senior Research Fellow, IFPRI
- Elizabeth M. Nderitu, Programme Manager, Standards Quality Infrastructure (SQI) and Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS), TradeMark East Africa
- Elizabeth Nsimadala, President of the Pan Africa Farmers Organization (PAFO) and Eastern Africa Farmers Federation (EAFF)
- Jonathan Hepburn, Senior Policy Advisor, International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)