By Ambassador Isi Siddiqui, Chief Agricultural Negotiator, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
This was originally posted on USAID's Feed the Future Blog.
We face dual challenges in food security: We need to get food to the people who need it today and grow more for the people who will need it tomorrow. Open, well-functioning markets can help.
Global markets are an essential element of food security. Open markets for agricultural commodities, agricultural inputs, and food products help to efficiently move these goods from those who develop and produce them to those who need them, benefitting both producers and consumers.
Markets that allow businesses and countries to share technologies help producers increase yields and output, reduce post-harvest losses, and adapt to climate change, while preserving the incentives for future innovation and transfer that are critically important to improving food security.
The U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative, Feed the Future, is driving a new model for development that, among other activities, integrates trade. Trade policies that promote open markets enable job creation, and can sustain and accelerate economic growth around the world.
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) lends our expertise and broader global work—increasing the transparency, predictability, and openness of agricultural trade through bilateral and multilateral exchanges—to the initiative’s goals of reducing global hunger, poverty, and undernutrition.
At the World Trade Organization (WTO), for example, we’ve put forth proposals in the area of trade facilitation that would go a long way toward removing barriers to agricultural trade by cutting and reducing border delays. Reducing delays for import clearances is particularly important for perishable food and agricultural products to help ensure that quality products reach consumers.
We’re also working closely with our partners at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) on the APEC action plan on food security to continue progress toward our shared goal of free and open trade by 2020. Trade agreements, such as the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), and ongoing negotiations like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) are also important tools to facilitate trade, provide reliable market access, and establish dependable distribution systems and supply chains.
Recognizing that agricultural production needs to substantially increase to meet growing global demand for food, USTR promotes science-based, transparent, and predictable regulatory approaches that foster innovation, including in agricultural biotechnologies. These types of approaches contribute significantly to a safe and reliable global food supply as the world’s population grows, and they help producers adapt to climate change.
Through Trade and Investment Framework Agreements (TIFAs), we engage countries in discussions on trade and investment policy reform. We have TIFAs with Feed the Future focus countries like Ghana, Rwanda, Liberia, and key regional economic organizations like the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), to name just a few.
In East Africa in particular, there is great opportunity for spurring growth by ensuring Feed the Future and the U.S.-East African Community (EAC) Trade and Investment Partnership (TIP) synergies. The EAC and the United States have taken important steps to advance the TIP, which supports regional integration of the EAC and recognizes the importance that trade and investment play in economic and social development, including in agriculture. Through this partnership, we’re focusing on trade facilitation, a regional investment agreement, stronger private sector linkages, and capacity building.
USTR, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of State, and the U.S. Agency for International Development work collaboratively to help countries move from aid to trade.
Together, our efforts to create transparent, efficient global markets help advance global food security.
Ambassador Isi Siddiqui is attending The Chicago Council’s Global Agricultural Development Initiative’s fourth annual Global Security Symposium today in Washington, D.C. The symposium is on “Capitalizing on the Power of Science, Trade, and Business to End Hunger and Poverty: A New Agenda for Food Security.” As chief agricultural negotiator in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Ambassador Siddiqui is responsible for bilateral and multilateral negotiations and policy coordination regarding food and agricultural trade.