December 2014

Trade Liberalization and Food Security: Examining the Linkages

The paper is released as part of our project working towards a New Framework for Trade & Investment in Agriculture, in which we are exploring some of the questions at the heart of defining the purpose, structure and direction of governance of trade and investment in agriculture, in order to place livelihoods, dignity, sustainability, resilience and food security at the heart of the rules governing these areas.

The analysis presented in the paper highlights three points:

  • First, it shows that the dominant neoclassical economic arguments for agricultural trade have many caveats that need to be put out in the open and examined in light of food security concerns.
  • Second, it shows that current trade theory tends to utilize an outdated notion of food security, and could benefit from a more nuanced understanding of the concept.
  • Third, it shows that trade theory and policy tends to prioritize efficiency (in a narrow sense) over other social goals, including ensuring the right to food, the need to preserve livelihoods and to protect the environment.

Given the political importance of these social goals, the paper suggests that we are only likely to see advancement of the dialogue on trade policy and food security once these broader goals are put on equal footing with trade and efficiency concerns.



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