As part of its series of briefs on food systems, the Global Panel’s new brief, Rethinking trade policies to support sustainable food systems and healthy diets, shows that there are clear benefits to aligning trade policies with the goal of providing healthy and sustainable diets for all. The brief aims to help policymakers address the key issues to take into consideration when choosing trade policies. It shows why policymakers who are committed to improving diets and nutrition should pay more attention to the value of trade instruments as part of their portfolio of actions.
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.
The brief provides a series of policy actions and opportunities for leveraging trade to improve diets with the following top-line messages:
- Close attention should be paid to trade policies that influence the relative price of foods within domestic markets.
- High priority should be given to trade policies that specifically help to increase the availability and to reduce the price of nutrient-rich foods.
- Policymakers should be alert to the effects of trade policies on the availability and pricing of imports of ultra-processed foods.
- Policymakers should pay close attention to trade agreements which embody strong investor protections, as they can be problematic.
- Food trade can be especially beneficial in managing price volatility and climate change risks.