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.
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 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.
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.
The Quality of Agricultural Official Development Assistance (Ag QuODA) measures how well donors giving agricultural aid score on the dimensions of aid quality that evidence and experience suggest lead to effective aid. Improvements in the data quality and availability are making sector-specific assessments like Ag QuODA more feasible, but further improvements are needed to allow a deeper understanding of aid effectiveness.
The costs of food aid reform are few, but the benefits would be substantial. Now is the time to bring food aid into the 21st century.
Regional trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership could leave some poor countries behind. Here are three policy changes to help Congress and President Obama avoid doing so.
In the face of climate change, land and water scarcity, declining growth in crop yields, and dwindling public budgets, donors will need to be more innovative in how they deliver aid for agriculture.
In this brief Kimberly Ann Elliott discusses the two main priorities the Obama administration should focus on in order to revive the AGOA program and expand its benefits.
This brief summarizes the findings of the CGD Global Trade Preference Reform Working Group and its recommendations to make preference programs better promote prosperity and stability in the world's poorest countries.
Tripping Over Health: U.S. Policy on Patents and Drug Access in Developing Countries (White House and the World Policy Brief)
The United States can play an important role in promoting global development while simultaneously advancing American interests and prosperity. Intellectual property (IP) rights, such as patents and copyrights, provide protection against unauthorized copying and are therefore fundamental to creating a policy environment conducive for innovation. But this protection creates challenges for developing countries by limiting access to needed products and by misaligning incentives for innovation. The next U.S. president should come down clearly in favor of a new policy that better balances public health needs in developing countries with private incentives for innovative activities.
Many Americans see trade openness as a threat. Yet access to rich-country markets is crucial for poor people in developing countries to improve their lives. In a new CGD brief based on her essay in The White House and the World: A Global Development Agenda for the Next U.S. President, senior fellow Kimberly Elliott suggests a trade policy approach that would address Americans’ concerns and still be pro-poor. One ingredient: treat market access for the world’s poorest countries as a development issue, not trade policy.
READ THE BRIEF
By any measure, the United States is one of the most open economies in the world—importing more than $1 trillion worth of goods duty-free in 2006 alone. Yet poor nations still pay much higher U.S. tariffs than rich countries—an average of 15 percent on a quarter of their imports, compared to 2-5 percent for rich countries. Not only is this unfair, it also undermines American interests by hindering growth in the poorest countries, thereby making them more vulnerable to epidemic diseases, terrorists, and transnational criminal organizations. In this new CGD Brief, senior fellow Kimberly Ann Elliott makes the case for the U.S. to fix this problem by permanently granting all least-developed countries 100% duty-free, quota-free market access and simplifying rules of orgin.
In this CGD/ Peterson Institute Brief, CGD senior fellow Kimberly Elliott argues that agriculture liberalization is crucial to the successful completion of the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations, since it is the sector with the highest remaining barriers in rich countries and the greatest potential gains from further liberalization. She examines patterns in rich-country support for agriculture and what reform would mean for developing countries, and offers recommendations for how to complete the round and ensure that developing countries benefit.
Trade has the potential to raise incomes worldwide. But trade creates losers as well as winners. This Rich World, Poor World brief provides an accessible introduction to the impact of global trade on U.S. jobs and suggests policies that the U.S. can pursue to maximize the gains and minimize the losses. Learn more about Rich World, Poor World: A Guide to Global Development
The collapse of the Doha trade talks puts at risk one of the rich world's most important commitments to developing countries: to reform policies that make it harder for poor countries to participate in global commerce. Trade has the potential to be a significant force for reducing global poverty by spurring economic growth, creating jobs, reducing prices and helping countries acquire new technologies. Global Trade and Development, a Center for Global Development Rich World, Poor World brief, explains how the U.S. engages in global trade and how trade affects development and global poverty. Learn more about Rich World, Poor World: A Guide to Global Development
With the prospects for an ambitious outcome in the Doha Round of trade negotiations seemingly fading, many are lamenting the welfare gains that would be lost from a superficial agreement while others are asking whether it matters for the world's poorest and, if so, how.