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Friday, 25 November 2011

World Bank: Stabilization policies could destabilize food prices

In a discussion on the situation of net food importing developing and least developed countries, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization reported that the world’s food import bill is heading for a new peak of US$1.29 trillion this year, an unprecedented surge of US$250 billion, with all food categories registering double-digit percentage increases.

The World Bank also reported that “price-insulating policies by [WTO] members during the crises have magnified price movements,” an assessment that sparked a critical response from some delegations. […]

Although this is a regular annual item on the committee’s agenda, this year delegates had in their minds proposals to include food security on the agenda of the 15-17 December WTO Ministerial Conference in Geneva and the wider concerns raised by the G-20 group of world leaders. Several members welcomed the G-20s creation of the Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS), hosted by the FAO and with the participation of a number of international organizations including the WTO (www.wto.org/foodsecurity).

One of the proposals for the Ministerial Conference came from the net food importing developing countries and African and Arab groups, presented by Egypt. Discussed at a specially convened meeting the previous day, the proposal would ask WTO members’ ministers to recognize that ensuring food security for their populations is governments’ first priority. It proposed that the Ministerial Conference direct the General Council to set up a comprehensive work programme for least developed and net food-importing developing countries.

Source: WTO