Agricultural Trade, Employment, and Poverty Reduction: Experiences from Latin American and the Caribbean Region

Trade and Sustainable Development Symposium Side Events

The biennial Trade and Sustainable Development Symposium, organized by the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) and held alongside the WTO ministerial conference for over a decade, is the leading multi-stakeholder platform for intellectual enquiry and dialogue on sustainable development and the global trade and investment system. It acts as an inclusive platform outside of the WTO negotiating setting for sharing ideas, engaging in dialogue, and influencing trade policy negotiations. Drawing in participants from government, business and civil society, the Symposium helps to maintain and elaborate a global vision of sustainable development in trade and investment policymaking.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017
10:45 AM - 12:15 PM
The elimination of poverty and the promotion of inclusive economic growth are among the key goals of Agenda 2030, wherein trade is recognized as one of the "means of implementation" for achieving the goals. With the agriculture sector accounting for over 70% of employment and 30% of GDP in the poorest countries of the world, trade in agro-food products has the potential to significantly impact rural employment, incomes and poverty, and thus, the achievement of these goals.
This session aims to discuss the linkages between trade, employment and poverty reduction in the Latin America and the Caribbean region, where some countries are major exporters of agricultural commodities to world markets, while for others food imports remain important. In particular, the focus will be on:

  • The role of agricultural support and social protection policies: agriculture is often among the most sensitive sectors in countries at all levels of development. Therefore, market incentives in agriculture are often influenced by agricultural support and trade policy measures, which affect the levels of production and trade of agro-food products, and ultimately, the economic activities through which people derive their livelihoods. Complimentary policies such as social protection and labor market measures are also important determinants of the employment and incomes. 
  • Implications of the globalization of agricultural value chains: with production processes increasingly fragmented and reorganized across different countries, trade is increasingly taking place within firms or as part of supply chains organized by lead firms. In this setting, standards (both public and private) in end markets, along with the level of competition along these value chains become important determinants of labor market outcomes and levels of poverty. 

Following a brief introduction by the moderator, the panelists will be asked to address these key issues through a series of guiding questions.


  • Georgios Mermigkas, Economist, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations


  • Eugenio Diaz-Bonilla, Visiting Senior Research Fellow, Head of Latin America and Caribbean Programme, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
  • Paolo Giordano, Principal Economist, Integration and Trade, Inter-American Development Bank
  • Ekaterina Krivonos, Economist, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
  • Matthew Wilson, Chief Advisor and Chief of Staff, International Trade Centre (ITC)