International Policy and Regulatory Frameworks
Edited by Rosemary Rayfuse and Nicole Weisfelt
Chapter 4: Right to food, sustainable development and trade: all faces of the same cube?
The global agricultural system is both complex and flawed. International trade in agriculture is highly distorted. While more than half the population in developing countries obtains its livelihood from agriculture, compared to less than 10 per cent in developed countries, only a small percentage of internationally traded food comes from developing countries. Food price volatility is high. Biofuels and futures transactions exacerbate the increase in food prices. Differences in governmental support are huge, with Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries spending a significant part of their budget on agricultural subsidies. On average, tariffs on agricultural products are still much higher than tariffs on industrial goods. In particular, processed agricultural goods, which come with an added value, are protected from competition from the South. In contrast, many developing countries have significantly liberalised their agricultural sector as a result of conditions linked to structural adjustment programmes.
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