Topics handled by WTO committees and agreements
Issues covered by the WTO’s committees and agreements


Food security

Work on food security in the WTO Agriculture Committee, the High-Level Task Force on the Global Food Security Crisis, market information, and analysis and debate on how well agricultural trade policy is providing secure supplies of food.



Work of the agriculture committee

> Agriculture


> Food security in WTO agriculture news

Monitoring the impact on food importers …

… more specifically, the net food importing developing countries (NFIDCs) and least developed countries


High Level Task Force

The UN High Level Task Force (HLTF) on the Global Food Security Crisis (see also this on the FAO website) was set up by the UN Chief Executive Board (CEB) in April 2008 in the wake of spiralling food prices. It is chaired by the UN Secretary General with the FAO Director-General as its vice chair. It comprises heads or other representatives of 22 international organizations, including the WTO and relevant parts of the UN Secretariat. International experts, non-governmental organizations and the Red Cross/Red Crescent have also been consulted in laying out the global coordinated strategy to confront high prices.

The Comprehensive Framework for Action (CFA). In July 2008, the task force developed its first action framework outlining the its strategy and guiding principles, adopting a comprehensive approach to food security — availability, access, stability and utilization. In September 2010, the framework was updated to cover a wider range of issues and more detailed treatment of all aspects of food and nutrition security. The WTO Secretariat and other agencies participating in the task force have contributed to developing the framework.

Work in the WTO:


The latest situation: market information

The WTO is working with eight other international organizations on an Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS). A joint Secretariat is hosted by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and includes the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), World Food Programme (WFP), the World Bank, the WTO, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the UN High Level Task Force (HLTF). The International Grains Council (IGC) will cooperate by attending the expert meetings and exchanging market information. (See brochure.)

The system is used to detect abnormal market conditions that would affect food security and to devise well-informed, coordinated strategies to deal with them. It is the result of a recommendation by a group of organizations including the WTO in their report on “Price Volatility in Food and Agricultural Markets: Policy Responses” submitted in June 2011 to the G-20 meetings of major economies (not to be confused with the G-20 in the WTO agriculture negotiations).

The WTO is contributing expertise to the information system, principally by sharing trade policy information that members have notified to the WTO, but no finance, the Secretariat told the 29 September 2011 meeting of the Agriculture Committee.

The Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS) reports

AMIS market monitoring reports can be found at See also the FAO on the world food situation.


Analysis and debate

  •  Video debate: How to address agricultural export restrictions. Nicolas Imboden, Executive Director of IDEAS Centre, and Debapriya Bhattacharya, Centre for Policy Dialogue, 1 November 2011
    Background: Under WTO rules, countries can restrict exports of agricultural products but only temporarily and they have to comply with GATT Article XI (ie, 11), in this case paragraph 2(a), and with Article 12 of the Agriculture Agreement. These require the restricting country to take into account the impact on importing countries’ food security, to notify the WTO as soon as possible, and as far in advance as possible, to be prepared to discuss the restriction with importing countries and to supply them with detailed information when asked for it.
  • Debate: UN rapporteur and WTO delegates debate the right to food, 2 July 2009
  • Debate: The right to food. UN rapporteur Dr Olivier De Schutter and WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy, 11 May 2009:
    >  video (in French)
  •  Video debate. The global food crisis: What is the role of trade? Olivier De Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, and Christian Häberli, World Trade Institute, 20 October 2008


Other organizations

> The Bali Package, 2013: decision on public stockpiling for food security, and explanation