On 25th April, two representatives from the World Bank and the IMF - Jos Verbeek and Brad McDonald – presented the French Development Agency (AFD) with the results of the “2012 Global Monitoring Report on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)” , focused on food prices.
If significant progress has been made, particularly on the reduction of extreme poverty and improving access to drinking water, the report notes that progress has been much more modest on issues related to food security and nutrition, due to the high and volatile prices of recent years.
Since the impact of price volatility varies across countries and populations, the authors recommend a multi-sectoral approach and the establishment of both trade integration and agricultural policies adapted to each situation.
Pierre Jacquet, Chief Economist of the AFD responded to these recommendations by noting that if the implementation of agricultural policies is indeed essential, the focus on trade integration is not, according to him, the latter could even be “economically and politically counter-productive”.
He reminds us that the issue of trade liberalization in the agricultural sector as currently envisaged, was particularly controversial and that in recent years, we had probably hastily pushed developing countries into liberalizing their agricultural markets.
Indeed, more than ten years after the launch of the Doha Round, most experts now agree to say that the unregulated liberalization of agricultural trade poses significant risks to global food security.
While agricultural prices will remain volatile in the coming years, it is absolutely imperative to promote the implementation of agricultural policies and regulatory mechanisms adapted to the turbulent environment that is now ours, rather than relying on the hypothetical benefits of the unregulated liberalization of world trade, for which no one seems to be praising the merits anymore... except P. Lamy, the Director-General of the WTO, but probably for other reasons.