Trade is a key element for sustaining food security and nutrition. However, food systems have to adapt to changing global mega trends: Climate change, protectionist tendencies and economic uncertainty due to populism and diverse political crises. Every single one of these trends overturns previously known realities in food value chains. In addition, the food’s environmental foot print becomes more and more important. In light of the above, the industry is facing major challenges to serve the global consumer who demands a constantly increasing 24/7 high quality food supply with special standards and low prices.
The panel discusses the impacts of these changing realities for agricultural and food systems on a regional and global scale. It also sheds light on the specific challenges that developing and emerging countries face. Throughout the discussion, the panel and the audience shall elaborate solutions to adjust to this new situation, both from a farmer and food industry perspective. Moreover, this panel will formulate recommendations to policy makers as to what kind of national and multilateral policies are needed to guarantee stable, sustainable and affordable food systems. It will discuss if the rules-based multilateral trading order is still suitable to achieve the above-mentioned multiple objectives of global food systems. The panel will also outline available alternatives.
The German agricultural and food industry has joined forces in the association GFFA Berlin e.V. Its aim is to discuss current issues and future challenges of agricultural and food policy with politicians, scientists and the civil society in order to jointly elaborate approaches and solutions.
The panel will consider how agricultural markets and trade can contribute to improved food security and nutrition. Productivity growth will be essential to feed an increasing world population, given a lack of additional agricultural land and the fact that input use is already unsustainable in many parts of the world. At the same time trade will be increasingly important because the regions of the world experiencing population and demand growth are not generally the areas where supply can be increased sustainably. Moreover, trade has the potential to pool risks across national markets. For productivity growth and trade to deliver tangible benefits in terms of improved food security and nutrition, a range of other requirements will also need to be met. In particular, well-functioning food supply chains will be needed to generate returns to farmers and deliver affordable food to consumers. The panel will explore the ways in which complementary policies, including the development of responsible agricultural supply chains, can support the core role of markets in underpinning food security and nutrition. In addition many question the contributions for food security played by competive agriculture and international markets compared to family or smallholder farms producing for domestic markets. The panel will consider how views on this issue can be better informed by the evidence base.
According to Article 104a lit. d of the Swiss Federal Constitution, in order to ensure the supply of food to the population, the Confederation shall create the conditions for cross-border trade relations that contribute to the sustainable development of the agricultural and food sectors. Based on this Article and the obligations under Agenda 2030, Switzerland endeavours to integrate more measures (exchange of information, dialogue, reporting) within the framework of free trade agreements with third countries (e.g. Mercosur) that are intended to contribute to sustainable development in the areas of agriculture, food systems and trade. On the occasion of the expert panel we would like to present these strategies and compare them with other possible solutions (e.g. dispute settlement, certification). The expert panel is to facilitate a critical in-depth discussion of these possible solutions and their specific implementation and impacts. Practitioners, representatives of international organisations and the global South shall also take part in the panel discussion.
EU agricultural trade, for example in the form of soy imports and/or exports of cheap meat, milk or cereals, has harmed the sustainable development of agricultural production in developing countries. The rules laid down by WTO and in bilateral agreements do not offer governments and agricultural producers in the Global South sufficient opportunities to manage both consumer needs and market opportunities for smallholders in an environmentally and economically feasible way. The announcement of the end of the Doha development round at the WTO demonstrates the lack of interest of developed nations in reforming the agricultural agreement. In bilateral treaties with the EU (e.g. EPAs, Mercosur, etc.), the chapters on sustainability and development have no mechanism for their implementation. Global agricultural relations necessitate their own new multilateral trade regime under the umbrella of the United Nations, which, for example, shall take both Agenda 2030 and the Paris climate targets into account in a self-evident and binding manner. The same must apply to the biodiversity goals of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Ideas will be discussed as to how sustainable agricultural trade relations could be fleshed out so that they benefit the millions of small-scale producers, protect regional markets and still promote fair opportunities on international markets.
The objective of the UNECE led expert panel is to discuss and identify innovative, integrated policy measures and smart solutions to make agricultural supply chains more inclusive, sustainable and safe. Specifically, the panel will focus on making food available that is not currently in the supply chains i.e. addressing the Food Loss and Waste (FLW) challenge and how integrated policies or innovative solutions could bring the food back into the supply chains. Each year, one third of the total food production (1.6 billion tonnes of food) are lost or wasted, rising to 2.1 billion tonnes by 2030. At the same time, more than 870 million people go hungry every night. Food is lost/wasted at all stages of the food supply chain. In developing countries, the losses are highest at the production or farm levels; in the developed countries, there is high waste at the consumption levels. The economic, social and environmental impact of this unsustainable use of resources in agri trade is immense. It affects along the entire food supply chain producers, packers, traders, the large female workforce, and the small-scale farmers, the most vulnerable. This seriously impacts food security in rural and urban areas alike. The panel is expected to highlight that integrated policy measures, data collection and analysis and smart solutions could contribute to multiple policy objectives and SDGs including sustainable agri trade and development, food security, safety, big data, and innovation.
In Africa, greater and more diversified agricultural trade at global and regional levels could leverage efforts to raise productivity and ensure food security. Increasing agricultural trade has the potential to improve food security by stabilizing local and regional food markets. Deepening intra-regional trade among African countries, and especially Africa’s regional economic communities (RECs), is essential in building Africa’s resilience to international market shocks. Important efforts have been made through several regional trade agreements, such as the creation of free trade areas, customs unions, and economic and monetary unions. The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) is a trade agreement which as of July 2019, 54 states have signed, making this the largest free trade area in the world. This expert panel will convene a dialogue among leading players in the Africa regional trade to exchange on key policy and investments actions. It will provide an insight into recent African agricultural trade developments and on how trade will contribute to food security in future.
For small-scale farmers, producers and traders in developing countries, meeting international food safety, animal and plant health standards clears the path to the global marketplace in food and agriculture products, where they often have a comparative advantage. This creates opportunities to add value across supply chains, in turn generating employment, increasing incomes and securing people’s livelihoods. Meeting international standards is crucial to monitor and control animal diseases and plant pests, improve agriculture production levels, and reduce the burden of foodborne diseases. The panel will highlight the importance of investing in sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) capacity in developing countries to protect health and facilitate trade. Why should governments invest more in SPS capacity as a global public good? How can we support small-scale agri-food producers to improve production levels and unlock trade opportunities? How do efforts to make trade flow more smoothly and quickly across borders help in reducing trade costs? Can technology be a driver in reducing obstacles to agri-food trade? These questions will be used to generate a discussion on how improved SPS capacity and related infrastructure can drive inclusive trade, industralize, transform and diversify economies, and benefit populations.
For certified agricultural products from global supply chains, customers assume that farmers’ and plantation workers’ food supply is secure. The bioeconomy strategies of the EU and the Federal Government pledge to consider the primacy of food security. To date, no criteria or monitoring tools have been used for sustainability certification. The so-called Food Security Standard (FSS) closes this gap and contributes to making global supply chains more inclusive and sustainable. It includes practicable criteria and tools for checking compliance with the right to food at local level. The FSS can be integrated into existing certification systems. The FSS team will explain the project and briefly introduce the tools. The FSS has already been used in Asia, Africa and Latin America within various certification systems. It has been tested on various cultivation systems (plantations, small farmers) and agricultural products (oil palms, sugar cane, cotton, coffee). Representatives of companies and certification standards as well as auditors will share their experience. Building on this, the opportunities and stumbling blocks for introducing the FSS will be discussed with the audience.
The tropics face many socio-economic and environmental challenges but are also rife with opportunities. Tropical economies have grown 20 percent faster over the past 30 years than the rest of the world. By 2050, more than half of the world’s population will live in this region, which will also have the youngest population. As the population rises, so will the pressure on natural resources.
Sustainable intensification of agriculture, coupled with inclusive and efficient value chains, is particularly needed in the tropics, and innovation is key to make that happen. Adequate national agricultural policies must be in place that consider innovations and trade. This is the only way to turn this trend into a huge “demographic dividend” and lift people depending on agriculture in tropical nations out of poverty.
The expert panel will focus on agricultural innovation and its role in supporting inclusive, sustainable and safe value chains in the tropics. It will incorporate the views of different stakeholders, including young farmers and governments and cover, inter alia, the role of the Tropical Agriculture Platform and of partners, such as GIZ, in supporting innovation along tropical agricultural value chains.
Latin America and Brazil in particular are increasingly making headlines with the EU-Mercosur agreement, the Amazon forest and agribusiness in general. Other countries in the region are also affected. At the expert panel we would like to introduce the status quo with figures and data on agribusiness in Latin America and the current status of small and medium-sized agricultural enterprises or crop areas, and we would like to discuss how small enterprises can be integrated in international trade and what contribution they make to sustainability and the protection of existing ecosystems. The international marketing campaigns of Peru, for example, have helped its special foods and regional cuisine conquer the world market. Products such as quinoa or limes for ceviche are now well known, which was still unthinkable a few years ago. How is the balancing act between these “niche” products, vegan and organic products developing in comparison to commodities such as coffee, soy, orange juice, meat (poultry, pork and beef)? A presentation on the cultivation of “energy” crops is also worth mentioning. These include sugar cane and maize as potential raw materials for biomass, methane as gas fuel and ethanol.
Cooperatives are a tried and tested and adaptive cooperation model. In particular, micro and small producers as well as family farms in the countries of the global South benefit from this cooperation as producers and traders. The added value is realised locally and directly benefits cooperatives and their members. The international panel will discuss the extent to which cooperatives and their associations promote trade in ecological, social and economic ways. Opportunities and challenges for agricultural development will be discussed from the perspective of different trading partners (importers and exporters, sustainability managers, representatives of associations) and with a view to various farm products. Cooperatives stand for sustainability. Their hallmarks are networking capabilities, stability and security. Through networking, many local producers improve their position in international trade. Local cooperatives facilitate, among other things, access to financial services, inputs and sales markets. Economies of scale benefit the environment due to international trade. Setting up cooperatives and hence contributing larger quantities enables participation in this trade. Using the example of certifications (soy, fair trade), the panel will discuss to what extent they make trade safer and more reliable and which stumbling blocks stand in the way.
The aim of the expert panel that will be hosted during the GFFA by the Economic Committee on Foreign-Trade Issues at the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the Grain Club is to use an interactive and very dynamic format to shed light on the status quo, prospects and challenges that arise in the development and expansion of sustainable supply chains, including consideration of the security of food supply. It will use the example of the cultivation, trade and use of soya, a crop which is essential for the global food situation, and will analyse the topic from the perspective of all those involved in production, marketing and consumption. The interviews with relevant stakeholders will represent the whole spectrum of the debate about sustainability, safety and inclusiveness in agricultural production and global trade. Every member of the production and value chain – from the Brazilian producer through retailers, processors and certifiers to the consumer representative – will be actively involved in the discussion. The expert panel will focus in particular on the discrepancy between sustainability requirements and the actual situation on the market, where a general sustainability certification for the use as food and feed has not been established to date – in contrast to energetic use. The discussion will also address the question whether and to what extent legislative specifications or bilateral trade agreements are expedient and tackle the issue of fair compensation for producers who may opt against land-use change for the purpose of soy cultivation.
Trade in agricultural goods has increased enormously, particularly between the regions of Eastern Europe, Central Asia and Asia – these regions account for a quarter of global agricultural trade. Compliance with standards and certification do not only guarantee the quality of delivered products in the country of destination, but also help improve production conditions in the country of origin and contribute to increasing local value creation. Not only do consumers benefit from the greater range of goods on offer, but producers can also achieve higher incomes because of better sales and distribution opportunities. However, insufficient access to suitable means of production and know-how as well as value chains that are not yet fully developed mean that many producers do not yet satisfy the required quality standards. This expert panel will therefore discuss the following issues:
Agricultural transformation is key to poverty reduction and improved livelihoods in the rural space. Technology has long been recognized as a key driver for the increases of on-farm productivity associated with the agricultural transformation. The potential gains in productivity associated with new, low-cost, and data-intensive on-farm digital technology applications are potentially enormous. The more important disruption to agricultural transformation will come from the impact of digital technologies on the upstream and downstream markets associated with farming. Digital technology is a game changer for the agri-food system because for instance it dramatically reduces the costs of matching buyers and sellers in multiple markets (input, output and financial). What is the role of the public sector in facilitating the diffusion, maximizing the positive impacts, and mitigating the downside risks of digital technologies in agriculture?
The panel discussion will seek to increase awareness and support for public policies that can guide these structural changes toward achieving national development strategies and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It will highlight the role of digital technologies in reducing transaction costs in agriculture. The panel will also discuss broader implications of digitalization on trade patterns in the agri-food system, including its potential for trade facilitation, and assess prospects for rulemaking.
Article 13 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants reads: “The right of peasants and other people working in rural areas to decent employment and adequate remuneration”. In agricultural value chains, the reality is different: Wage dumping, inhumane and exploitative working conditions, low prices and competitive pressure. An agricultural trade supposed to adhere to principles of justice includes a pricing system that takes fair wages into account, not only in the global South, but also in Europe. The event offers socio-ethical guidance on the importance of decent work and income for shaping sustainable agricultural trade and fair prices. Changing perspectives of the experience from the global South and Germany, it will be discussed which political options must be used to eliminate and prevent exploitative labour relations in value chains, which responsibilities political and economic stakeholders (including the WTO and the ILO) have to take, and which measures are necessary at European level to make sure the next Common Agricultural Policy promotes development and is coherent in terms of employment policy.
For the first time in the history of the World Trade Organization (WTO) members and observers have endorsed a collective initiative to increase the participation of women in trade. The “Buenos Aires Declaration on Trade and Women Economic Empowerment” was adopted at the 11th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2017. 121 members of the World Trade Organisation confirmed that a common approach on a multilateral level is needed to increase women’s participation in international trade.
So far, this issue has not been tackled with a particular view on international agricultural trade. Therefore, the panel of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture in Germany wants to close this gap and discuss the topic trade and women economic empowerment from a specific agricultural perspective. We believe that an inclusive agricultural trade is essential to help to increase women’s incomes and thus reduces hunger and poverty. This perfectly complements this year’s GFFA discussion on how international trade can ensure global food security.
The panel will focus in its discussion on the removal of barriers that women still face in agricultural trade. It will also debate on how to increase the participation of women famers in agricultural trade and to ensure that women can benefit more equally from global agri-food value chains and market opportunities.