By Eugenio Diaz-Bonilla

I will first provide a brief summary of where the WTO negotiations currently stand along the Road to Bali, based on a summary given by Director-General Roberto Azevêdo at the Informal Trade Negotiations Committee meeting of October 25, 2013.

By Eugenio Diaz-Bonilla

In Part I, I mentioned the different channels affecting food and nutrition security, focusing on trade and trade policies. In Part II, I will go into more detail regarding the links between trade, trade policies, and food security, specifically in the context of the WTO.

In December, the Ninth WTO Ministerial Conference will open in Bali, Indonesia. Agriculture, and the links between trade and poverty alleviation, food security, and environmental sustainability, will appear again as key issues in the negotiations. The new Road to Bali blog series will provide analysis and dialogue about the critical issues being discussed in the official negotiations, civil society, and research circles, with a particular focus on the negotiations' potential implications for developing countries.

In early October, the WTO held its Public Forum in Geneva, Switzerland. The Public Forum is an annual event providing a platform for public debate about a wide range of global topics and issues being discussed by the WTO.

Global trade policies have the potential to significantly impact food security, for better or for worse. With the ninth WTO Ministerial Conference upcoming in Bali in December, some developing country leaders are pressing negotiators to keep this connection in mind and fast-track talks on proposed changes that would give developing countries greater flexibility in following the new WTO agricultural trade rules.

The WTO Doha Development Round trade negotiations have been at an impasse since their launch in 2001, and have gotten particularly bogged down over the difficult technical and political aspects of agricultural trade reform. Further complicating the talks is the fact that the global economic, trade, and geopolitical context has changed significantly since the Doha Round was launched.

Ukraine has announced that it will be enforcing an export ban on wheat beginning on November 15. The move comes after poor weather impacted Ukraine’s wheat harvests and follows in the wake of the US drought, which decimated that country’s wheat crop and led to sharp increases in international prices. Ukraine’s exports are expected to reach 5.3 million tons in November, a level which the Ukrainian government says will exhaust the country’s exportable surpluses.

USDA has released its latest quarterly grain stocks update and is seeing important reductions in grain stock-to-use ratios. These reductions are expected to continue impacting prices and trade; however, as they were anticipated by most major traders, they should not increase price volatility in the coming weeks.

While progress has stalled in the House of Representatives in recent weeks, the pending new five-year US Farm Bill will have important implications for agriculture.

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