Markets and Trade

Trade and Sustainable Agrifood Systems

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognizes international trade as an engine for inclusive economic growth and poverty reduction, and as an important means to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Global markets improve efficiency in agriculture and offer consumers a wider choice of food at more affordable prices. At the same time, food and agricultural trade can result in negative environmental or health outcomes.

Trade policies in food and agriculture can be formulated to address the trade-offs between economic, environmental, social and health objectives and promote food security and sustainable development.

Producing for export can result in more pollution, deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions. Environment-related provisions (ERPs) in regional trade agreements (RTAs) are policy instruments that attempt to tackle trade’s negative environmental outcomes.

The relationship between trade and nutrition is complex with trade having heterogeneous effects on nutrition across countries. To ensure that trade promotes healthy diets and better nutrition outcomes, there is need for analysis and further evidence to identify how different trade policy instruments can contribute to improved nutrition.

The project:

With the support from the Federal Office of Agriculture of Switzerland – FAO is conducting a project on “Trade and Sustainable Agrifood Systems”. This project consists of two components:

It contributes to sustainable food systems by analyzing environment-related provisions linked to agriculture, forestry, and fisheries (Ag-ERPs) in RTAs and by assessing the impacts of these provisions on environmental outcomes;

It bridges the knowledge gap regarding the relationship between food trade, trade policy and nutrition. In particular, the project’s research explores the food trade from a nutrition perspective and examines the role of trade policies in nutritional outcomes.