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Promoting an Open and Equitable Global Food System

IPCSpecial Events

Moving towards a Demand-Driven Agricultural Sector: Implications for Trade Policy

September 25, 2012

Lunch session 20

13:00 - 15:00

Room S2

WTO Public Forum

Geneva, Switzerland


The global food system today is vastly different from what it was in the 1990s when agriculture was first brought under the umbrella of international trade rules.   The first years of the new century have been marked by a dramatic increase in the demand for food and rapidly growing production of biofuels, coupled with supply-side constraints. The world has already witnessed two food price spikes, and with population and income growth projected to continue exceeding productivity growth, prices are likely to remain both higher and more volatile.  Other changes since the Uruguay Agreement on Agriculture was agreed include a proliferation of regional trade agreements and the fragmentation of production through highly complex value chains.  There has also been a growing awareness and knowledge of both the impact of environmental constraints on food production and the environmental impacts of agricultural production.  Both government and private sector standards for food and agricultural products are playing an increasingly important role in trade.

This session will explore the ramifications of these changes and projections and explore what they portend for the future of international food and agricultural trade flows and rules. The session will begin with an overview of the changes that have taken place in the global agricultural trade system and of projections through 2050. It will then highlight some initiatives underway intended to explore whether and how international trade rules might need to be adapted to better reflect new realities.  An exchange of views with the audience will be launched by comments from several discussants.

Contributors to the session:


  • H.E. Carlo Trojan, IPC Chairperson, former Ambassador of the EU to the WTO


  • Tim Josling, Senior Fellow, Institute for International Studies, Stanford University, IPC Member  How the world has changed and a look to 2050.

  • H.E. Tim Yeend, Australian Ambassador to the WTO: WTO Ambassadors’ initiative on the multilateral trade system, launched at a meeting in Corfu in May 2012

  • Manzoor Ahmad, Senior Fellow, ICTSD: IPC-ICTSD Expert Group on Agricultural Trade and Food Security


  • H.E. Mr. SUN Zhenyu, Chairman of China Society of WTO Studies, Former Ambassador of China to the WTO

  • Ellen Terpstra, Chief Executive Officer, International Food & Agricultural Trade Policy Council

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