Publication [ID: 119]

Aligning ARD and Trade Policies to improve sustainable development impact

The Global Donor Platform for Rural Development, in close cooperation with our partners from ECDPM, commissioned an analysis on the issues of building coherence between trade and agriculture and rural development policies and strategies.

It is increasingly recognised that fair trade regimes, transparent market access and value-chain development with high quality standards are the major features in achieving the provision of food security as called for by SDG2 and its targets. In close cooperation with ECDPM, the Global Donor Platform for Rural Development has commissioned an analysis on the issues pertaining to coherence of trade and ARD policies and strategies entitled “Aligning ARD and Trade Policies to improve sustainable development impact”, which is crucial at national and regional level.

Growing importance of dialogue and cooperation

Given that the WTO initiative Aid for Trade is continuously gaining ground, development partners are consequently making efforts to strengthen coherence between their Trade and Agricultural and Rural Development (ARD) policies and interventions. This is key to enhance or improve the necessary development impact or at the very least to avoid one policy undermining the developmental effects of the other. It requires enhanced dialogue and cooperation between trade and ARD communities. This exploratory study seeks to analyse the ongoing debate and cooperation between ARD and trade, and aid for trade departments.
Paul Engel, Alumni Director ECDPM, carried out the analysis, in close cooperation with the Platform’s workstream Trade and Inclusive Agri-Buisness. The paper highlights various areas of contention between the ARD and Trade work streams of development partners. The ARD and Trade community tend to agree on general objectives like food security and employment creation, but disagree on the way to achieve them. This disagreement produces an ongoing debate: which trade is good for development and which is not? Under which conditions investment can have a positive impact? Even if some convergence is taking place, ARD for long focused mostly on the production and productivity side, while the trade community prioritised (external) markets and took the production side for granted.

Key recommendations

Based on this analysis, the paper provides suggestions for a more effective dialogue and cooperation. It promotes a practical approach, zooming in on the ARD and Trade nexus at the national, the inter-country and regional level. It helps putting into context different views and arguments, bringing together relevant actors. Once an overall objective is agreed, disputes over the different effects and expected outcomes of certain measures, regulations and agreements can be settled based on concrete evidence.
Only by moving away from a confrontational model, a we/they thinking, towards a true, pragmatic and concrete partnership between ARD and Trade communities, will we be more effective in reaching the Sustainable Development Goals.

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