G20 is a good vehicle for coordination of international response to food security problems - David Hallam
Director of the Trade and Markets Division at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) David Hallam at the Think 20 Meeting shared his view on how could the G20 facilitate to stronger global food security.
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Question: How could the G20 facilitate to stronger global food security?
David Hallam: I think that G20 countries have a lot of influence here. G20 countries together account for up to 80% of world output of some key crops and a similar proportion of international trade. So there is direct link between G20 production and trade and food security in the world. But more important is that G20 is a good vehicle for coordination of international response to food security problems. Under France's presidency, the G20 created the agricultural market information system to improve market transparency and the rapid response forum that gives a possibility to react to crises on international food markets in a more coordinated way. And the G20 countries have got so much technical expertise that they can use to support developing countries in their efforts to develop their food markets and agricultural sectors. There are many different ways in which the G20 can actually support issues of food security in the world.
Question: Can G20 fight hunger in less developed countries?
David Hallam: This has been a feature since the Seoul summit in 2010 that there has been a concern with food security. Under the France's presidency one idea was to create a new kind of international structure for food security and so on, although it didn't work out as ambitiously, and then under the Mexican presidency one of the top priorities was to try to support countries to increase productivity of small farms. So there are efforts to provide direct support to countries. There are some things that G20 can do well and there are others that they can do less well. But the fight against hunger is one of the things that G20 can try to work on. Not all of the things that have been discussed in the G20 are really feasible and valuable. But some are. So this is important to find what the G20 can contribute as the G20 and then to pursue this.
Question: How trade policies in different countries affect global food market?
David Hallam: This has been a very important topic in recent years. In the past the concern was always with tariff barriers on imports of food which were closing markets for developing countries. Now there is more controversy on export restrictions. And certainly in 2007-2008 and again in 2010-2011 when we had very high food prices on the world markets export restrictions imposed by some countries were one of the driving forces of these rises in prices. And so the trade policies that countries pursue can have a major impact on the world markets and food prices. International trade issues are to be on the agenda for G20. And as the WTO discipline on export restrictions in particular is rather weak and negotiations have stalled, maybe there is a role for G20 to discuss such responsibilities.
Question: What is your personal view on Russia's presidency priorities? What could be Russia's input or contribution to G20 Agenda?
David Hallam: Russia is trying to refocus the G20 agenda on traditional core issues of growth, investment, employment, finance. That is perfectly understandable. I think it's unfortunate that issues like food security which is a global problem are being marginalized. But perhaps as the presidency goes on things will adjust. I think it would be unfortunate if the food security issues got lost because the G20 has done good work in this area and could do a lot more.