Markets and trade
 > Economic and Social Development stream > Publications > Policy research working papers

Commodities and trade policy research working papers

What did we learn from the bout of high and volatile food commodity prices (2007-2013)?
This research paper looks at the crisis in international agricultural markets during the last decade and draws out some lessons. Although crop prices continue to be volatile, the bout of high prices/high volatility ended by 2015. The initial rapid rise of prices was not predicted, and surprised both market players and the international community more broadly. Considerable policy attention was focused on the crisis – by the UN broadly, by FAO and its members, by G20 heads, agricultural groups, and national governments.

Assessing volatility patterns in food crops
Prices of food crops, which depend on unpredictable factors like the weather, are naturally volatile. However, in recent years we have experienced bouts of extreme food price volatility. These can be a thread to world food security. Especially in developing countries, where households spend a large share of income on food items and about two billion people live off small farms, while often not having access to credit, savings, or storage facilities, large price fluctuations can have devastating and long-term repercussions.

Trends in Foreign Direct Investment in Food, Beverages and Tobacco
This paper analyses foreign direct investment (FDI) flows in food, beverages and tobacco, including primary agriculture and retail, from 2003 to 2014. It provides information on global, regional and - where possible - national trends in FDI flows in food, beverages and tobacco.

The contribution of tree crop products to smallholder households A case study of baobab, shea, and néré in Burkina Faso
This document examines the contribution of tree products derived from baobab (Adansonia digitata), shea (Vitellaria paradoxa) and néré (Parkia biglobosa) to smallholder livelihoods where these nontimber forest products form a significant part of the subsistence economies of smallholder households in the Sahelian region. The benefits are access to nutritious foodstuffs particularly during the soudure hunger season and are also commercialised.

Challenges and opportunities of foreign investment in developing country agriculture for sustainable development
This paper describes challenges, opportunities and determinants of foreign investment in developing country agriculture for sustainable development. Options and good practices for generation of mutual benefits and prevention and mitigation of risks are presented. 

Impacts of foreign agricultural investment in developing countries: evidence from case studies
This paper summarizes the results of FAO’s case studies on the impacts of foreign agricultural investment on host communities and countries. The studies suggest that the disadvantages of large-scale land acquisitions often outweigh the few benefits to the local community. 

After Bali: WTO rules applying to public food reserves
This paper provides contextual background and analyses this decision from a legal perspective. It finds that, at best, Decision 38 provides a starting point for a WTO Work Programme for food security, for review at the Eleventh Ministerial Conference which will probably take place in 2017.

WTO domestic support disciplines: options for alleviating constraints to stockholding in developing countries in the follow-up to Bali
This paper provides first a succinct description of existing WTO provisions on domestic support applicable in general and the special treatment of developing countries including provisions for stockholding operations. 

Low levels of genetically modified crops in international food and feed trade: FAO international survey and economic analysis
The low level presence (LLP) and adventitious presence (AP) of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) in internationally traded food crops have been a major issue of discussion recently. This paper presents the findings of a survey to evaluate the issue and examine the impact of LLP on trade flow.

Policy developments affecting jute and hard fibres markets and their implications for production and trade
This document examines the existing policy framework impacting production and trade of jute, abaca, coir, kenaf and sisal (JACKS). Policy discussion in this document is heavily biased towards producing countries, most of which are Least Developed Countries (LDC), because of the importance of these fibres to the economy of these countries.

Market structure and distribution of benefits from agricultural exports: The case of the Philippine mango industry
This paper relies on both qualitative and quantitative information to analyze the main determinants of the size and distribution of trade benefits among trading firms in the mango export industry in the Philippines.

Analysis of trade impact on the fresh pineapple sector in Ghana
The objective of this report is to determine, analyze and establish the level and distribution of trade impacts (benefits or losses) for firms and farmers engaged in the production and export of fresh pineapple from Ghana.

Trade and R&D spillover effects: Implications for firm level analysis in the agricultural sector
This paper provides a critical review of the economic literature on the relationship between international trade and research-and-development (R&D) spillovers with the aim of exploring ways to estimate the R&D spillover effects of agricultural trade at firm and industry levels

Investigating the structures of agricultural trade industry in developing countries
This paper reviews the theories and evidence on the structure of agricultural trade industry in developing countries. Based on a literature survey, the paper seeks to determine the causes leading to the industry structure and how the structure affects the distribution of trade impacts among firms.

Structural changes in the sugar market and implications for sugarcane smallholders in developing countries - Country case studies for Ethiopia and the United Republic of Tanzania
This study looks at the contribution of the sugar sub-sector to smallholder’s livelihood based on field survey samples collected from sugar producing regions in Tanzania and Ethiopia.

Food safety regulations and export responses of developing countries: The case of Turkey’s fig and hazelnut exports
Looks at the growing importance of food safety standards as trade regulations and their effect on exports. 

The impact of commodity development projects on smallholders’ market access in developing countries - Case studies of FAO/CFC projects
This report examines the role of commodity development projects, especially those funded by the Common Fund for Commodities (CFC) and supervised by FAO, in improving opportunities for market participation by smallholders.

The development of global diets since ICN 1992: influences of agri-food sector trends and policies. FAO commodity and trade policy research working paper 34
The scope of this report is to discuss dietary and nutritional changes and their causes since the International Conference on Nutrition (ICN) 1992, with particular reference to developments on international food markets and policies.

A contribution to the analyses of the effects of foreign agricultural investment on the food sector and trade in Sub-Saharan Africa
Manitra A. Rakotoarisoa, FAO commodity and trade policy research working paper 33, November 2011

This paper analyzes the likely effects of foreign agricultural investment in Sub-Saharan Africa with a focus on the impacts on the food sector by simulating the effects of the reduction of investment risks triggering an entry of foreign investment flow.