Rethinking trade policies to support healthier diets
This brief (PDF) by the Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition focuses on the potential to lever improvements in diets by trade policy, and how to address it. The primary focus is on cross-border flows of food and agricultural commodities, exploring the effects that trade can have on the supply and affordability of nutrient-rich foods. It also considers how trends in global trade affect diets, greenhouse gas emissions and the natural environment upon which food systems depend. Trade policy is not an easy route through which to improve diets and nutrition, given the rapid changes in food systems and the highly political nature of trade agendas. However, the brief provides policy actions and opportunities for leveraging trade to improve diets: 1) Be alert to effects of trade policies on importing of processed foods. 2) Specific traded foods should be viewed ‘healthy’ or ‘unhealthy’ based on individual’s diet. 3) Attention should be paid to policies that frame relative prices of foods. 4) High priority to trade policies that help incease availability, and therefore reduce the price, of nutrient-rich foods. 5) Food trade can be beneficial in managing price volatility and risks associated with climate change. 6) Export of high-nutrient foods should be considered in context of nutrient value and affordability of food imports. 7) Informal trade can lower the efficiency of policy measures, so should be particular focus. 8) Pay close attention to trade agreements which embody strong investor protections, they can be problematic. 9) Circumvent risks of trade agreements with strong investor protection by aligning nutrition-focused trade policies with WTO-rules. 10) Consideration needs to be paid to imports from countries which apply less stringent protection policies. 11) There is urgent need for policy measures that encompass international supply chains to promote the sustainable production of nutritious foods for high-quality diets.