International trade has grown significantly over the past 60 years; the WTO (2008) estimates that between 1950 and 2007, the rate of growth of world trade in real terms was 6.2 percent, compared to 3.8 percent growth in global GDP. The impact of increased world trade cannot be measured simply in terms of economic activity, however; issues like gender equity, health, and nutrition (all key aspects of societal wellbeing) are also affected.

International agricultural trade has been a major headline recently, but as the latest WTO Ministerial Conference proves, disagreement about the best way to conduct such trade remains widespread.

Photo Credit: Flickr: WTO

On December 19, the 159 members of the WTO concluded the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference with the signing of a new international trade agreement, the Nairobi Package. The agreement contains several important outcomes on the issue of agriculture and represents the first major achievement by the WTO on this issue since the end of the Uruguay Round talks and the birth of the organization in 1995.

BY: David Laborde and Eugenio Díaz-Bonilla, IFPRI

Export subsidies for agriculture have been a contentious issue. A particular anomaly in the multilateral trading system framework is that while export subsidies in industrial products have been banned under WTO rules, they are still allowed for agricultural products, including some that are rather industrialized, such as dairy and meat products.

WTO Public Forum, October 2015. Photo Credit: WTO/Studio Casagrande

BY: Joseph Glauber, IFPRI

On November 9, IFPRI co-hosted a conference with the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development and FAO in Geneva on agricultural trade outcomes at the upcoming Nairobi Ministerial. The conference brought together current and former trade officials and experts from around the world to talk about the importance of trade for food security and rural development.

Sugarcane harvester in Brazil. Photo credit: flickr (John McQuaid)

The FAO Food Price Index averaged nearly 162 points in October, up 3.9 percent from the previous month. This was the sharpest increase since July 2012, but the index is still down 16 percent from this time last year.

Dropping oil prices, concern over the global financial implications of economic slowdown in China, and higher than expected global yields for wheat, maize and rice are all contributing to the continued descent of crop prices, according to the September edition of the AMIS Market Monitor and the FAO Food Price Index, both released today.

A farm worker cleans lettuce crops in Chimaltenango, Guatemala. Photo: Maria Fleischmann / World Bank

Authors: Eugenio Diaz-Bonilla and Maximo Torero

An abridged version of this article was originally published in the Spanish-language press in Guatemala.

This article was originally posted as part of Bridges Weekly Trade News Digest from the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development

Efforts to develop a work programme aimed at revamping the stalled Doha Round negotiations are ready to enter a “second stage,” WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo reported to the global trade body on Monday, after four months of preliminary consultations among members.

Concerns have been growing over how the ongoing political turmoil in the Ukraine, the world's third largest maize exporter, could impact global grain prices and reserves in the coming year. While Ukraine has delivered the majority of its current export obligations, continuing conflict could pose problems for next season's planting and harvest, and thus future export shipments.

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