This note sets out three ways that the UK government can continue to improve access to UK markets for the poorest countries following Brexit.
Though it has been struggling with challenges for some time, current nationalist and populist tendencies around the world pose a far more serious threat to the World Trade Organization than anything previously seen. Developing countries gain most from this system and should take the lead in a new negotiation to reinforce core WTO principles, including transparency, predictability and nondiscrimination.
External financial assistance is, and will remain, essential. But both donors and host countries need to do more to facilitate the transition from humanitarian relief to longer-term development assistance and trade measures could help.
For nearly 50 years, the world’s “least developed countries” have received extra financial support and preferential trade treatment to help them grow and develop. In the first three decades after the United Nations (UN) created the LDC category in 1971, only one country—diamond-rich Botswana—outgrew that status.
US trade policy effectively discriminates against poorer countries. In addition, provisions in trade agreements that tilt the playing field in favor of business interests over those of American consumers and workers also often undermine development priorities in partner countries. American policymakers should rethink the substance and process of trade policy and negotiations to spread the benefits more broadly, at home and abroad.
Demand for and supply of “sustainable” coffee (and other commodities) have grown markedly for two decades, as has the literature analyzing the effects of voluntary sustainability standards for coffee. The evidence for assessing the impacts for smallholder producers and the environment remains relatively weak, however.
A healthy US agricultural sector is critical to global food security. American farmers help keep food affordable around the world, but they also receive public assistance that too often comes at the expense of American taxpayers and consumers, as well as millions of poor farmers in developing countries. While the farm bill is not the primary vehicle for setting policy on biofuels or antibiotic use, Congress could use the legislation to advance smart policy changes that set the stage for broader reforms.
In Global Agriculture and the American Farmer, Kimberly Elliott focuses on three policy areas that are particularly damaging for developing countries: traditional agricultural subsidy and trade policies that support the incomes of American farmers at the expense of farmers elsewhere; the biofuels mandate, which in its current form can contribute to market volatility while doing little if anything to mitigate climate change; and weak regulation of antibiotic use in livestock, which contributes to the global spread of drug-resistant super bugs. While noting that broad reforms are needed to fix these problems, Elliott also identifies practical steps that US policymakers could take in the relatively short run to improve farm policies—for American taxpayers and consumers as well as for the poor and vulnerable in developing countries.
While the misuse of antimicrobials in human health is a key factor accelerating the emergence of drug resistance, we should not overlook the role of agriculture. This paper makes the case for a global treaty to reduce antimicrobial use in livestock.
Attention presidential transition teams: the Rethinking US Development Policy team at the Center for Global Development strongly urges you to include these three big ideas in your first year budget submission to Congress and pursue these three smart reforms during your first year.
The debate over genetically modified organisms (GMOs) has been raging for twenty years and there is still more heat than light around the topic. While some developing countries have embraced the technology, much of Africa has followed the European Union’s precautionary approach. While not a panacea, GMOs could be part of a new green revolution in Africa if governments address the policy and institutional weaknesses that prevented Africa from participating in the first one, and if GM technology continues to develop.
The world will struggle to achieve the goals of ending extreme poverty and hunger by 2030 unless there is a sharp increase in agricultural productivity in Africa. Across sub-Saharan Africa, most people live in rural areas and rely on agriculture for their livelihoods; most of them are poor and many are hungry. Could genetically modified organisms (GMOs) help to address some of the causes contributing to Africa’s lagging agricultural productivity? Our answer is a qualified maybe.
There is no question that the “mega-regional” trade deals in the Pacific and across the Atlantic are big. If completed and implemented, they will cover a large portion of global trade and investment. This paper examines the TPP text to identify provisions that are more or less development-friendly, especially for Vietnam, which is the poorest signatory to the deal by far. It concludes with with recommendations for US and EU policymakers that would mitigate potential negative effects for developing countries and for the multilateral trading system, including rules of origin that minimize trade diversion.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, if completed and implemented, will cover a large portion of global trade and investment, but they will exclude the majority of developing countries.
The United States is not using trade as effectively as it might to promote development. The executive and legislative branches of the US government have long recognized that trade can be an important tool to help poorer countries generate resources, create jobs, and reduce poverty. They also recognize that growth in developing countries contributes to global prosperity and growing markets for US exporters as well. Despite that, the few significant US trade barriers that remain often target agricultural and labor-intensive products in which developing countries have a comparative advantage.
Even as Congress was mandating large increases in the consumption of biofuels a decade ago, the world was changing. In the early 2000s, replacing fossil fuels with biofuels made from corn, sugar, or oilseeds seemed like a good idea. Increased crop demand would prop up prices for farmers, and replacing petroleum with renewable energy would reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and promote energy independence.
Trade is a key tool to bring food security to an estimated 800 million people around the world that remain chronically undernourished. Many countries need reliable access to international markets to supplement their inadequate domestic food supplies. Better policies to make agriculture in developing countries more productive and profitable, including via exports, would also help alleviate food insecurity and reduce poverty. Stronger international trade rules would help by constraining the beggar-thy-neighbor policies that distort trade, contribute to price volatility, and discourage investments in developing-country agriculture.