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Grow Markets, Fight Hunger: A Food Security Framework for US-Africa Trade Relations

RESEARCH Policy Brief by Andrea Durkin
An aerial view of produce stands at a street market

Andrea Durkin provides recommendations from a Council report aiming at addressing food security in Africa and US-Africa trade relations.

A new framework for US-Africa trade relations focused on agriculture and food can advance African food security while positioning US businesses to benefit from Africa’s growing food market, which is expected to reach $1 trillion by 2030. This report presents evidence that an effort by the United States focused on bolstering regional trade and harmonizing food standards and regulations across countries would drive economic growth while improving the availability and affordability of nutritious foods throughout Africa.

Summary of Report Recommendations

Individual Farmer & Agribusiness Goals Policy Area Trade & Investment Policy Approach
Access inputs to grow food Standards Rationalize regional technical regulations and standards to promote trade in seeds and fertilizer
Move food across borders Trade Facilitation Implement trade facilitation measures with a focus on expediting trade in staple foods
Sell more food to other countries Market Access Remove market access barriers to regional trade; further open the US market through AGOA
Use income to invest in production Investment Agreements Improve the legal environment through investment treaties
Reduce risk and financial uncertainty Global Disciplines Advance global agreements to achieve greater transparency and reduce impacts of trade-distorting limitations on food trade

Eighty percent of Africans work in the agriculture and food sector, and one quarter of the continent’s total population is chronically undernourished. In spite of this, current US trade approaches to Africa have limited food security benefits and also do not benefit American farmers and businesses as much as they could. US trade approaches focus largely on bilateral trade in the mining and manufacturing industries, neglecting the development of harmonized standards, cohesive regulatory frameworks, and the agriculture and food sector writ-large. In 2012, only 0.6 percent of Africa’s agriculture and food exports, which totaled $52 billion, went to North America.

Congressional Brief

Download the Congressional Brief for this report.

About the Authors
Nonresident Senior Fellow, Global Food and Agriculture
Council expert Andrea Durkin
Andrea Durkin is a Nonresident Senior Fellow of global food and agriculture at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, with expertise in the global economy. She’s the founder and principal of Sparkplug, LLC, an independent consulting firm whose clients include companies in the life sciences, food, and agriculture sectors, as well as major industry trade associations.
Council expert Andrea Durkin