Goal 2 of the 2030 Agenda sets out to “End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture”. As with other Sustainable Development Goal, realizing this goal will require a multifaceted approach. One part of the equation is the necessity for properly functioning food commodity markets. To ensure that markets around the world have access to nutritious food requires international trade and cross-border cooperation. In the context of climate change, with growing risks for predictability of harvests and uncertainty regarding the sustainability of many regional crops, the importance of trade in food commodities may well increase rather than diminish.
Two targets belonging to Sustainable Development Goal 2 deal with the proper functioning of food markets. Target 2.c, sets out to limit or reduce price volatility through better access to market information. Furthermore, target 2.b aims to avoid market distortions by eliminating Export subsidies refer to the granting of support by governments to some beneficiary entity or entities to achieve export objectives. Export subsidies may involve direct payments to a firm, industry, producers of a certain agricultural product etc. to achieve some type of export performance. In addition, export subsidies may include low cost export loans, rebates on imported raw materials and tax benefits such as duty-free imports of raw material. They can also take the form of government financed marketing. Most subsidies have existed in agriculture. . and equivalent measures. Cooperation via multilateral trade has an important role to play in order to alleviate hunger, complementing other efforts, such as, increasing Official Development Assistance (ODA) are resource flows to countries and territories which are: (a) undertaken by the official sector; (b) with promotion of economic development and welfare as the main objective; (c) at concessional financial terms (implying a minimum grant element depending on the recipient country and the type of loan). In addition to financial flows, technical co-operation is also included . and Other official flows (OOF) are transactions by the official sector with countries and territories which do not meet the conditions for eligibility as ODA, either because they are not primarily aimed at development or because they do not meet the minimum grant element requirement . to the agricultural sector (see Official support for sustainable development).
Increasing food insecurity due to COVID-19 calls for more international cooperation
The Global Report on Food Crisis, highlighted the importance of keeping “critical food supply chains operating, so people have access to life sustaining food” (Food Security Information Network, 2020; United Nations, 2020a). The report finds that even before the Infectious disease caused by the strain of coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 discovered in December 2019. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans. In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The most recently discovered coronavirus causes coronavirus disease COVID-19 . Commonly described by the WHO as ‘the worldwide spread of a new disease’, no strict definition is provided. In 2009, they set out the basic requirements for a pandemic: • New virus emerges in humans
• Minimal or no population immunity
• Causes serious illness; high morbidity/mortality
• Spreads easily from person to person
• Global outbreak of disease.
The US Centre for Disease Control uses a similar approach, but with a reduced set of criteria. It is very difficult to gauge whether the spread of a disease should be termed an outbreak, epidemic or pandemic. In other words, when to declare a pandemic isn’t a black and white decision ., 135 million people globally lived under food crisis conditions, most often driven by conflict and insecurity. In addition, 183 million people lived in stressed food conditions, and were at risk of falling into crisis if faced with an additional shock. Lockdowns worldwide due to the COVID-19 pandemic have raised concerns about food insecurity, especially in poorer countries, and highlighted the fragility of global food supply chains. In May 2020, the Famine Early Warnings Systems Network (2020) identified South Sudan, Yemen and Nigeria as the areas of highest concern. These were all conflict areas where COVID-19 could aggravate the risk of famine.
The May 2020 update of the United Nations Global COVID-19 Humanitarian Plan (UNOCHA, 2020) more than tripled the funding requirements from the initial US$2 billion in the first appeal in March 2020. Among growing humanitarian needs, the response plan notes a marked deterioration in the food security situation. The food security sector represents the largest component of the response plan’s updated requirements of US$6.7 billion, with a total of US$1.6 billion (FAO, 2020a).
Through Article XI of The GATT 1994 is contained in Annex 1A of the WTO Agreement. It incorporates by reference the provisions of the GATT 1947, a legally distinct international treaty applied provisionally from 1948 to 1995 . parties agree, in principle, to not apply export bans or restrictions. However, members are allowed to apply temporary restrictions to safeguard products such as food (WTO, 2020a). As of 23 April 2020, 39 World Trade Organization members (including individual European Union countries) introduced temporary export prohibitions and restrictions on food to ensure food stability within their territories. Kazakhstan, for instance, introduced export quotas on several cereal products and banned exports of buckwheat, white sugar, potatoes, carrots, turnips and whipped cabbage. Russia limited sales of wheat through June 2020 to protect its supplies. Viet Nam and Myanmar restricted exports of rice, and El Salvador banned exports of certain dried leguminous vegetables (ITC, 2020).
The heads of WTO, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and World Health Organization, in a Joint Statement on 31 March 2020, advised against such measures, asking countries to “show solidarity, act responsibly and adhere to our common goal of enhancing food security, food safety and nutrition and improving the general welfare of people around the world” (WTO, 2020b). The WTO Agreement on Agriculture (2020c) also requires countries to give due consideration to the food security needs of others while considering temporary export restrictions on food. If the number of export restrictions continues to grow, they could disrupt the global food supply chain, and “imperil global food security, especially in atomized net food-importing developing countries” (UNCTAD, 2020a).
UNCTAD warned that there is a growing fear that food markets are going to be affected by logistical constraints and labour shortages, thereby putting pressure on prices. In China, the biggest importer of soybeans, the price of soybean futures increased by 5 per cent between 27 and 30 March 2020 as a result of fears of logistical disruptions to supply markets. UNCTAD also finds that low-income countries are particularly vulnerable to external shocks, as they devote 37 per cent of their merchandise export revenue to food imports, more than five times the share by developed economies (UNCTAD, 2020a).
Past food crises have made the world more prepared for the current one. Figure 1 shows that in 2019 global stock-to-use ratios for key staples were substantially higher than in 2008, when the market conditions for these products were tight. China’s stocks of rice and wheat alone were sufficient for up to 13 months of domestic consumption. Thus, stockpiling food is arguably not the strategy to pursue presently; instead, one of the most important measures to combat food insecurity is to keep international trade channels open (International Food Policy Research Institute, 2020).
Notes: Years are standard international trade years that depend on hemisphere and that does not correspond exactly to calendar years. The selected commodities are the most commonly recorded commodities in the dataset. The world total is based on the sum of domestic consumption and the sum of ending stocks for individual economies for a given year. The number of economies with data on both measures varies between 119 and 121 for corn, 114 and 117 for rice, and 118 and 124 for wheat. The sum of individual economies’ stocks in millions of metric tons for the market year 2019 was 312.9 for corn, 295.9 for wheat and 181.3 for rice.
Increasing trade in food – small change in actors
In 2018, 6.6 per cent of all world merchandise imports consisted of Basic food refers in this publication to a category of food products that excludes beverages and tobacco, tropical beverages (such as coffee and tea) and spices. When SITC codes are used, the included codes are 0 - Food and live animals, 22 - Oil seeds and oleaginous fruits, 4 - Animal and vegetable oils, fats and waxes with the exclusion of 07 - Coffee, tea, cocoa, spices, and manufactures thereof. When HS codes are used, basic food refers to chapter 1-24 excluding 05 - Products of animal origin, not elsewhere specified or included, 06 - Live trees and other plants; bulbs, roots and the like; cut flowers and ornamental foliage, 09 - Coffee, tea, mate and spices, 13 - Lac; gums, resins and other vegetable saps and extracts, 14 - Vegetable plaiting materials; vegetable products not elsewhere specified or included, 22 - Beverages, spirits and vinegar, and 24 - Tobacco and manufactured tobacco substitute.. However, at country level, the importance of food to individual countries’ import basket can vary considerably. Of the total value of merchandise imports from 2016 to 2018, food comprised 42 per cent of imports in Haiti and Benin. The same figure was above 30 per cent for Somalia, Yemen, American Samoa, Eritrea, Guinea-Bissau, Gambia, and Wallis and Futuna Islands (UNCTAD, 2020b).
The median of economies’ net imports of basic food, defined as imports minus exports of these products, reached 5.2 per cent of total merchandise imports for the period 2016-2018. South America is home to several net food-exporting countries while many net-importing countries are found in the Middle East and Africa. Another prominent group of net food importers are the Small Island Developing State. Only the Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Seychelles are net exporters of basic food. At the same time, many islands and other economies with access to oceans are net exporters of basic food – the extreme being the Falkland Islands where 83 per cent of exports are crustaceans, mollusks and aquatic invertebrates (see map 1). At regional level, Latin America and the Caribbean together with Oceania are net food exporters while Africa and Asia are net food importers (see table 1).
Notes: Net food imports are calculated as imports minus exports of basic food excluding tea, coffee, cocoa and spices (Standard International Trade Classification 0 + 22 + 4 less 07) during the years 2016-2018. The percentage displayed is reached by dividing net food imports with total imports of all products for the economy in the same period.
Europe stands out as a region with high intra-regional food trade. Only a quarter of the US$0.5 trillion of food that European economies import originates from outside the region. This is in stark contrast to Africa, where 85 per cent of the food imports are extra-regional. There has been little change in these patterns over the two last decades (see table 1).
|Group of economies||Food importsa||Extra-group importsb||Net food importsc|
(Billion of US$)
|2001 - 2005|
|2016 - 2018|
|2001 - 2005|
|2016 - 2018
|Latin America and the Caribbean||79.2||63.6||61.6||-9.8||-13.4|
Notes: Food, basic excluding tea, coffee, cocoa and spices (SITC 0 + 22 + 4 less 07).
a Billions of US$ in current prices.
b As a ratio to total food imports.
c As a ratio to total imports of all products.
Several economies consistently have had the highest net food imports as a ratio of total imports over the two last decades (see figure 2). One exception is American Samoa that was among the top three net food importers at the beginning of the 2000s. There, the net food imports have decreased as a result of growing exports of animal feed.
Notes: Figures are by five-year periods and from 2016 to 2018. Net food imports are calculated as imports minus exports of the product group “food, basic excluding tea, coffee, cocoa and spices (SITC 0 + 22 + 4 less 07)”. The percentage displayed is reached by dividing net food imports with total imports of all products in the corresponding period. Included economies are the top three either in the period from 2001 to 2005 or from 2016 to 2018.
A noticeable change has occurred over time in the total food trade; the value of exports in basic food in constant 2018 prices has doubled since 2000, reaching almost US$1.3 trillion in 2018, up from US$590 billion in 2000. The increase has been driven by improvements in market access, innovation, and the fact that economic and population growth has slightly outpaced the growth of merchandise trade in general. As mentioned above, 6.6 per cent of all merchandise trade in 2018 was basic food, compared to 5.5 per cent in 2000. This has been accompanied by a slow and steady decrease in the This index measures, for each product, the degree of export market concentration by country of origin. It tells us if a large share of commodity exports is accounted for by a small number of countries or, on the contrary, if exports are well distributed among many countries. The index ranges from 0 to 1 with higher values indicating more market concentration . for basic food from 0.155 in 2000 to 0.127 in 2018. The export concentration of basic food has slightly outpaced the concentration index for total exports during this period UNCTAD (2020b).
Trade in vegetables and fruits, the most traded food-product group, has grown steadily over the last two decades and accounted for 20 per cent (US$ 276 billion) of all exports in total basic food in 2018 (see figure 3). Grains accounted for 14 per cent of exports of basic food.
Note: Product groups are SITC product groups 01 - 05. These five groups together constituted 66.6 per cent of the world export in basic food in 2018. All product groups except dairy products and birds’ eggs are in the top five in total export value. Fruits includes also nuts. See UNCTAD (2020c) for the product classification used.
Since 2012, the general trend for food prices has been decreasing. However, like other commodities, the price of food has increased over the longer term. Stable increases in prices give consumers and producers a theoretical chance to budget and plan but volatile prices are more disruptive to the livelihoods of people on both sides of the market. There is a strong correlation between food prices and commodity prices generally, though food prices have tended to be less volatile than, for example, non-edible agricultural raw materials or metals (see figure 4). However, sharp rises in food prices between 2007 and 2008 and again in 2011 highlighted the need to develop methods to track price volatility (Baquenado, 2015).
Spikes in food prices can deny low-income families’ access to sufficient nutritious food. Abnormalities in food prices are in themselves strong indicators of potential threats to food security and provide valuable warning signs, signaling the need for action. Prices carry broad information about recent changes in supply and demand as well as signals about expectations and risks for future food markets. They can be observed easily and frequently (Kalkuhl et al., 2016).
The methodology for the SDG indicator of Food price anomalies refer to abnormally high or low market prices for food commodities. The indicator relies on a weighted compound growth rate that accounts for both within-year and across-year price growth. The indicator directly evaluates growth in prices over a particular month over many years, taking into account seasonality in agricultural markets and inflation, allowing to answer the question of whether or not a change in price is abnormal for any particular period. It is measured by SDG indicator 2.c.1 .1 relies on identifying food prices with growth rates that differ from the historical average (United Nations, 2020b; Baquedano, 2015). Grains are some of the most tracked or monitored food products, most particularly rice (see table 2).2 The group of economies most affected by high general food prices from 2016 to 2017 were Landlocked developing country, where the proportion of economies affected was 37 per cent, ahead of Least developed country (21 per cent) and SIDS (4 per cent) (FAO, 2020c).
|Type of product||Number of economies with price data||Categorization of price|
|Abnormally low||Normal or moderately low/high||Abnormally high|
Food price anomalies and volatility are often combined with losses in agricultural income, climate extremes, reduced food access and extreme changes in the quantity, quality and diversity of food consumed (FAO, 2018). The episodes of high food price volatility pose a major threat to food access, especially in developing economies, including LDCs. These episodes are expected to become more frequent with the rising number of extreme climate-related events.
International trade in open and transparent markets may alleviate the effects of external shocks. UNCTAD has long called for increased transparency and tighter regulation of commodity markets to help avoid speculative bubbles (UNCTAD, 2012). Applying these initiatives in food markets can contribute to food security.
WTO members have agreed that export subsidies may have harmful effects on international trade (see The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) is a multilateral agreement, originally negotiated in 1947 in Geneva among 23 countries, to reduce tariffs and other trade barriers. It provides a framework for periodic multilateral negotiations on trade liberalisation . Article XVI, WTO, 1986). Agricultural subsidies were originally intended to aid domestic producers and farmers in areas where agricultural production costs were high and to ensure the production of enough food to meet domestic needs. Agricultural export subsidies are a form of government intervention to modify a country’s terms of trade. They protect producers from international market competition; i.e., economies where the costs of production, such as labour or land, are cheaper. As such, subsidies may have many spillover effects for the global economy where they can exacerbate price volatility and food price spikes. They allow exporters to gain market share without the efficiencies that should accompany such growth.
The WTO Agreement on Agriculture, which came into force in 1995 (WTO, 2020c), has placed limits on export subsidies that distort agricultural trade in order to prevent the disposal or dumping of surplus commodities on global agricultural markets. Following the 2015 Nairobi Ministerial Conference, WTO members have taken steps to phase out export subsidy entitlements from their WTO schedule of commitments in order to level the playing field between developed and developing economies. Apart from a few selected agricultural products, developed countries agreed to remove export subsidies with immediate effect, and most developing countries agreed to do so by 2018. However, developing countries will retain the flexibility to cover marketing and transport costs for agriculture exports until the end of 2023, while the poorest and food-import dependent developing countries will be granted more time to reduce export subsidies (WTO, 2020d).
Notifications of agricultural export subsidies were between US$ three and four trillion in the early years of the 2000s but have since decreased substantially. The 2015 Nairobi package3 has further strengthened WTO members’ commitment to abolish trade-distorting subsidies in agricultural markets. In 2018, only three economies notified WTO about agricultural export subsidies to a total value of US$33 million (see figure 5).
However, governments still provide substantial support to agricultural producers through budgetary transfers and policy measures that amount to a market price support (OECD, 2019). In Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries, these forms of support sum to about US$247 billion in 2018, which accounts for about 19 per cent of gross farm receipts. In 2000, this figure was 32.3 per cent (OECD, 2020a). Agricultural markets are further supported by budgetary transfers to consumers and by general service supports that are not paid directly to producers but has the agricultural sector as its main beneficiary. A report by the Food and Land Use Coalition (2019) estimates that, globally, the agricultural sector is supported to the tune of US$700 billion per year.
The report by the Food and Land Use Coalition (2019) found that the current use of agricultural subsidies leads to inefficient land use and that there are huge opportunities in reorienting subsidies away from high carbon-emitting production and incentives for deforestation and redirecting them towards more sustainable practices. The positive effects would be manifold, including improving global health and combatting climate change. There is a trend in developed economies towards payments to producers that are conditional on production practices that preserve public goods, such as, biodiversity (OECD, 2019).
Other intervention measures
Governments have a wide range of policy instruments at their disposal, including Tariffs “are customs duties on merchandise imports, levied either on an ad valorem basis (percentage of value) or on a specific basis (e.g. $7 per 100 kg). Tariffs can be used to create a price advantage for similar locally produced goods and for raising government revenues. Trade remedy measures and taxes are not considered to be tariffs.” and Non-tariff measures (NTMs) are policy measures other than ordinary customs tariffs that can potentially have an economic effect on international trade in goods, changing quantities traded, or prices or both such as technical barriers to trade, price-control measures, etc.. As mentioned in Barriers to trade tariffs on agricultural products are generally considerably higher than those for manufactured products or natural resources. Tariffs are slowy being reduced and NTMs, besides export subsidies, are playing an ever greater role in international trade.
There are multiple links between NTMs and the SDG goals. NTMs threaten trade openness, but not all measures are harmful. Some measures relate to health and environmental protection. Transparent technical import measures can encourage exporters to fulfill requirements that in turn promote sustainable agriculture. Meeting the challenge of navigating the competing ways that NTMs can affect food security is part of UNCTAD’s work in this area (UNCTAD, 2020d).
Most countries impose some form of technical import measure to at least one food product. On average a countries impose technical import measures on products from 13 out of the 17 The Harmonized System (HS) is an international nomenclature developed by the World Customs Organization, which is arranged in six-digit codes allowing all participating countries to classify traded goods on a common basis. Beyond the six-digit level, countries are free to introduce national distinctions for tariffs and many other purposes. chapters covering food products. Non-technical import measures and export measures are equally common and cover almost as many food product groups. On a more detailed level, Any measure applied: (a) to protect animal or plant life or health within the territory of the trade partner from risks arising from the entry, establishment or spread of pests, diseases, disease-carrying organisms or disease-causing organisms; (b) to protect human or animal life or health within the territory of the trade partner from risks arising from additives, contaminants, toxins or diseases causing organisms in foods, beverages or feedstuffs; (c) to protect human life or health within the territory of the trade partner from risks arising from diseases carried by animals, plants or products thereof, or from the entry, establishment or spread of pests; or (d) to prevent or limit other damage within the territory of the trade partner from the entry, establishment or spread of pests . as well as Technical barriers to trade (TBT) are measures referring to technical regulations, and procedures for assessment of conformity with technical regulations and standards. are the most common NTMs on basic food (see table 3).
OECD (2019) found that government support for agriculture is predominately provided via measures that distort production and trade. About half of support to agricultural producers is in the form of market price supports that create gaps between effective producer prices and international market prices. The resulting price distortions vary widely between economies but have generally been decreasing over the last two decades. In 2000, agricultural producers received 33 per cent more for their products than international market levels, compared with only 12 per cent in 2018 (OECD, 2020a).
|NTM category||Number of members imposing||Number of product groups affected per member|
|Technical import measures||72||13.3|
|Sanitary and phytosanitary measures||72||12.8|
|Technical barriers to trade||70||11.1|
|Non-technical import measures||72||12|
|Contingent trade protective measures||3||0.4|
|Quantity control measures||68||8.5|
|Price control measures||64||9.4|
|Other non-technical import measures||27||4.1|
Notes: Measures as of May 2020. Only measures affecting all countries are included (bilateral measures are excluded). Product groups considered are HS chapter 01-24 excluding 05 – Products of animal origin, not elsewhere specified or included, 06 – Live trees and other plants; bulbs, roots and the like; cut flowers and ornamental foliage, 09 – Coffee, tea, mate and spices, 13 – Lac; gums, resins and other vegetable saps and extracts, 14 – Vegetable plaiting materials; vegetable products not elsewhere specified or included, 22 – Beverages, spirits and vinegar, and 24 – Tobacco and manufactured tobacco substitute.
There are, in total, 91 countries in the database.
Number of product groups affected per country refers to the average (over countries) of how many of the included 17 product groups had at least one product to which the measure was imposed.
Global Trade Alert systematically documents trade interventions by traded product and classifies their probable effect as harmful or liberalizing4. Though export subsidies seem to be disappearing, the GTA database contains examples of other measures applied to food products that can be deemed harmful to the global food market. No new technical import measures have been documented as being implemented during the past five years – regardless of their evaluated effect. On the other hand, there were 448 new harmful tariffs and 499 new harmful non-technical import measures implemented (Global Trade Alert, 2020)5. In both cases, these outweigh the corresponding liberalizing steps taken in the same category and period. Notably, in a period of vanishing notifications of export subsidies, GTA found 71 new interventions classified as harmful export subsidies on food (see figure 6). The difference between this observation and official SDG data, shown in figure 5, can be explained by differing definitions and by the fact that economies that have pledged to not use export subsidies are not required to notify the WTO if they do (United Nations, 2020b).
Notes: Included products are HS codes 01-24 minus 05, 06, 09, 13, 14, 22 and 24. The database also contains a total of 42 interventions evaluated “potentially harmful” not displayed.
A review of trade policy changes since 2006 by Bellmann and Hepburn (2017) showed a resurgence of market access protection and government subsidies in order to maintain domestic farm incomes. Indeed, after correcting for the fact that newer interventions have had a shorter time to be documented, analysis of the interventions in the GTA database shows an uneven but upward trend in harmful measures imposed on food products. Moreover, there have been more harmful than liberalizing measures each year since GTA started documenting trade interventions, with the sole exception of 2011 (see figure 7).
Notes: To ensure comparability between years, only interventions documented in the database before the end of the same year are included.
UNCTAD work on trade in biodiversity-related products
Trade in agricultural or food products is only part of total trade on products based on biodiversity (BioTrade). This category comprises all products with a biological origin, including vegetable and animal species found on land, water or air. Since 1996, UNCTAD’s BioTrade Initiative has fostered trade as an incentive for biodiversity conservation and improved economic and social welfare, particularly in developing countries, through sustainable trade activities. UNCTAD and BioTrade partners focus on enhancing biodiversity-based sectors, creating an enabling policy environment and sustainable sourcing capacities for BioTrade companies, access and benefit-sharing, and increased trade in value-added (UNCTAD, 2020f).
In response to the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, as well as to reflect evolving legal and policy frameworks, and building on partners’ decade-long experience, UNCTAD completed a new version of the BioTrade Principles & Criteria in early 2020 (UNCTAD, 2007, 2020g). The P&C guide the collection, production, transformation and commercialization of biodiversity-related products and services under sustainability criteria.6 These are promoted under the Global BioTrade programme, launched by UNCTAD in 2018 with the support of the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO (UNCTAD, 2020h).
BioTrade is being implemented in over 60 countries worldwide in sectors, such as, personal care, phytopharma, food, fashion, handicrafts, textiles and natural fibres and sustainable tourism, among others (UNCTAD, 2016). Sales by BioTrade companies and initiatives reported in 2019 amounted to €5.15 billion, an increase of 18.6 per cent on 2018 (UNCTAD, 2020i). The BioTrade Initiative directly supports SDGs 1, 2, 5, 8, 10, 12, 14, 15 and 17 and additionally contributes to the Post-2020 global biodiversity framework to be adopted during the 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, postponed until 2021 (UNCTAD, 2020j).
BioTrade in practice: Supporting the SDGs in the Mekong region
For years, megadiverse countries in the Mekong region have been leaders in developing products and services based on the sustainable use of biodiversity. The regional BioTrade project in Southeast Asia, implemented by Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation, has been supporting companies in implementing the BioTrade P&C in Lao PDR, Myanmar and Viet Nam since 2016 (Helvetas, 2020a).
BioTrade is contributing significantly to the 2030 Agenda by conserving biodiversity, generating livelihoods and food security for rural populations and vulnerable groups, and helping developing countries increase their exports. In 2019, the total exports of BioTrade companies connected to the Regional Biotrade Project reached US$12.2 million for biodiversity-related products, an increase of almost 300 per cent on2018. Similarly, 13,540 people (52 per cent of whom are women) in Viet Nam, Myanmar and Lao PDR were employed or enjoyed increased incomes due to the Regional Biotrade Project (Helvetas, 2020b). For instance, BioTrade companies working with jujube production in Myanmar have increased women’s employment while conserving biodiversity in the area, due to the beneficial effects of jujube trees on climate stability and ecosystem services, and the sustainable collection of the fruits (Wilson et al., 2019).
Providing the latest data on trade in biodiversity-related products
UNCTAD is also developing a statistical tool providing updated trade flows for biodiversity-based products and will host information from BioTrade partners under a set of “Trade and biodiversity profiles”. A pilot exercise was conducted to identify trade flows of BioTrade priority species and products (grouped in over 180 HS Codes) from 2010 to 2018 in 14 BioTrade beneficiary countries in Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia.
The results of this exercise for Myanmar, Lao PDR and Viet Nam show an increase in exports for the three countries from US$1.6 billion in 2010 to US$5.2 billion in 2018. The top six biodiversity/BioTrade export products were edible fruits, fish meat, non-alcoholic beverages, nuts and other seeds, food preparations, and cosmetics and toilet preparations. As shown in figure 8, BioTrade has grown at a faster rate than overall exports in Viet Nam and, especially, in Myanmar. In Lao PDR, after a large fall in 2011, BioTrade and general exports followed similar trends until 2016.
BioTrade products still have a small weight in the total exports for these countries, but this share has shown a growing trend in Myanmar, and since 2011 in Lao PDR. For example, from 2010 to 2018, Myanmar registered a 262 per cent growth in the exports of the selected BioTrade products, three times faster than for overall exports. As a result, the share of BioTrade in total exports in this country increased from 1.5 per cent in 2010 to 2.8 per cent in 2018 (with a maximum of 4.2 per cent in 2013) (see figure 9).
The increasing demand among consumers worldwide for natural and environmentally friendly products continues to offer growing opportunities for BioTrade.
- SDG indicator 2.c.1.
- The FAO collects and disseminates food commodity prices via the Food Price Monitoring and Analysis database (FAO, 2020b). In May 2020 this database contained over 1400 time series of domestic food prices. The prices tracked differs from economy to economy. In May 2020 there were annual indicators of food price anomaly for five cereal products for 2016 and 2017 in the Global SDG Database (United Nations, 2020c).
- The Nairobi Package contains a series of six Ministerial Decisions on agriculture, cotton and issues related to LDCs (WTO, 2020e).
- A small portion of measures documented in the GTA database are evaluated as “potentially harmful”. These are excluded from the present analysis.
- It is important to note that the number of interventions does not necessarily represent the proportional impact of exports affected by them.
- The BioTrade P&C are also aligned to the objectives of multilateral environmental agreements, including the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species and Wild Fauna and Flora, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, and others.
- Baquedano FG (2015). Developing an indicator of price anomalies as an early warning tool: A compound growth approach. FAO. Available at http://www.fao.org/giews/food-prices/research/detail/en/c/235685/.
- Bellmann C and Hepburn J (2017). The Decline of Commodity Prices and Global Agricultural Trade Negotiations: A Game Changer? International Development Policy | Revue internationale de politique de développement [Online] 8.1. November. Available at https://journals.openedition.org/poldev/2384 (accessed 18 June 2020).
- FAO (2018). The State of Agricultural Commodity Markets 2018: Agricultural Trade, Climate Change and Food Security. FAO. Rome.
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- FAO (2020b). FPMA Tool: A web–based tool for analysis and dissemination of price data. Available at https://www.fao.org/giews/food-prices/price-tool/en/ (accessed 5 June 2020).
- FAO (2020c). SDG Indicator 2.c.1 - Food price volatility. Available at http://www.fao.org/sustainable-development-goals/indicators/2c1/en/ (accessed 5 June 2020).
- Famine Early Warnings Systems Network (2020). FEWS NET. Available at https://fews.net/ (accessed 18 June 2020).
- Food and Land Use Coalition (2019). Growing better: Ten critical transitions to transform food and land use. The Global Consultation Report of the Food and Land Use Coalition. September. Available at https://www.foodandlandusecoalition.org/global-report/ (accessed 8 June 2020).
- Food Security Information Network (2020). Global Report on Food Crises 2020. Available at https://www.fsinplatform.org/global-report-food-crises-2020.
- Global Trade Alert (2020). GTA database. See https://www.globaltradealert.org/ (accessed 7 May 2020).
- Helvetas (2020a). Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar: Ethical trade in botanicals. Available at https://www.helvetas.org/en/switzerland/what-we-do/how-we-work/our-projects/asia/vietnam/vietnam-laos-myanmar-regional-market.
- Helvetas (2020b). Personal communication, April and May 2020.
- International Food Policy Research Institute (2020). COVID-19: Trade restrictions are worst possible response to safeguard food security. Available at https://www.ifpri.org/blog/covid-19-trade-restrictions-are-worst-possible-response-safeguard-food-security (accessed 18 June 2020).
- ITC (2020). COVID-19 temporary trade measures. Available at https://www.macmap.org/covid19 (accessed 10 June 2020).
- Kalkuhl M, von Braun J and Torero M (2016). Volatile and Extreme Food Prices, Food Security, and Policy: An Overview. In: Kalkuhl M, von Braun J, and Torero M, eds. Food Price Volatility and Its Implications for Food Security and Policy. Springer International Publishing. Cham: 3–31.
- OECD (2019). Agricultural Policy Monitoring and Evaluation 2019. Agricultural Policy Monitoring and Evaluation. OECD Publishing. Paris.
- OECD (2020a). OECD Data: Agricultural support. Available at https://data.oecd.org/agrpolicy/agricultural-support.htm (accessed 9 June 2020).
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