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Global trade key to food crisis solution

International trade is part of the solution to the global food crisis, not one of its causes, said World Trade Organisation director-general Pascal Lamy.

Lamy said trade enabled food to be transported from areas where it could be produced efficiently to areas of demand.

“International trade was not the source of last year’s food crisis. If anything, international trade has reduced the price of food over the years through greater competition, and enhanced consumer purchasing power,” he noted.

However, Lamy did refer to Olivier De Schutter, the United Nations food shortage expert, who warned against excessive reliance on food trade, as it was not in the interest of poor farmers in underdeveloped countries who were after self sufficiency.

But Lamy pointed out that agriculture accounts for less than 10 percent of world trade, adding that: “To suggest that less trade, and greater self-sufficiency, are the solutions to food security, would be to argue that trade was itself to blame for the crisis.”

Agriculture receives special treatment under international trade rules, he said, and that despite the crisis of 2007 and 2008, as a percentage of income, food was becoming less expensive.

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Adeline Teoh

Adeline Teoh

Adeline Teoh is a journalist with more than a decade of publishing experience in the fields of business, education, travel, health, and project management. She has specialised in business since 2003.

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