International Food and Agricultural Trade Policy Council
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About IPC
International Food and Agricultural Trade Policy Council
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Promoting an Open and Equitable Global Food System

IPCPolicy Areas

Agricultural Trade Negotiations

As a convenor of leaders in the field of agriculture and trade, IPC uses its expertise to examine multilateral, regional, and bilateral trade proposals and agreements. It recommends pragmatic trade policy options, with an aim to increase efficiency in trade while also addressing the challenges facing developing countries.

IPC is an ardent advocate for the successful liberalization of agricultural trade under the scope of the WTO. This forum is optimal for creating gains from agricultural liberalization for developed, developing, and least developed countries. The transparency and accountability resulting from a single set of regulations contained in a multilateral agreement allow all member states to participate in world trade.

As developing economies are often based in agriculture, the liberalization of trade in agricultural products gives these countries access to markets for products in which they have a comparative advantage. By agreeing to reduce their agricultural tariffs and subsidies, developed country producers create greater export opportunities for developing countries. These, in turn, lead to increased incomes in developing countries and, therefore, also provide developed country producers with larger markets. IPC appreciates that open trade is not a panacea for developing countries; however, when accompanied by flanking adjustment measures and sound investment, it can lead to sustainable economic growth and poverty alleviation. IPC advocates pragmatic trade and development policies in food and agriculture that promote a more sustainable world trade system.

While trade liberalization creates "North-South" relationships between developed and developing countries, IPC also believes that the multilateral trade liberalization facilitates the growth of "South-South" trade. Already, trade among developing countries is growing despite considerable obstacles. IPC sees the WTO as the most efficient way for developing countries to expand their trade with similar economies. Because of these opportunities, coupled with adjustment policies, IPC supports multilateral trade as a tool for alleviating poverty in developing and least developed countries.

In comparison to the possibilities resulting from multilateral agreements, regional and bilateral agreements offer reduced opportunities for economic growth from trade. By creating a multitude of distinct trade arrangements, bilateral and regional agreements can result in complicated and divergent sets of rules and commitments. Such arrangements risk marginalizing least developed countries from the benefits of international trade, as these countries have limited financial and human capital to negotiate favorable agreements and to comply with the complex terms of multiple agreements. Furthermore, in a bilateral or regional context, countries are reluctant to reduce agricultural trade barriers, aware that non-parties to such agreements are not subject to the same reforms.

Nevertheless, IPC recognizes that all three types of agreements are constant to the realm of international trade. While advocating for progress in the multilateral stage, IPC also examines regional and bilateral agreements, supporting agreements that do not impede further multilateral reforms, that provide real opportunities to developing countries, and that increase overall market access. IPC explores issues related to the expirations and renewals of preferential trade agreements between developed and developing countries as well.

Related Publications and Events

          June 2008 (Collaboration with ICTSD and IFPRI)

          June 2008 (Collaboration with ICTSD and IFPRI)

           June 2008 (Collaboration with ICTSD and IFPRI)

           Washington, DC

           May 1, 2008

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