Oman education: SQU to host second MENA trade workshop

Oman Sunday 20/March/2016 23:23 PM
By: Times News Service
Oman education: SQU to host second MENA trade workshop

Muscat: WTO Chair at Sultan Qaboos University will host the Second MENA Trade Workshop, entitled “Trade, WTO and Food Security”, on March 21 and 22.
The two-day workshop will discuss the linkage between trade, WTO and food security, as well as other trade related and food security issues.
The event will be an opportunity for academicians and practitioners from the region to present their findings and discuss food security, in light of the challenges presented by limiting natural resources and international market instability.
The WTO chair at SQU conducts research, curriculum, and outreach activities, which are relevant to both the Middle East and North African Countries (MENA) and WTO.
Commenting on the theme of the workshop, Dr. Houcine Boughanmi, WTO Chair Professor at SQU, said that today, food security has become an urgent concern, particularly in the MENA region.
“Food security is explicitly mentioned in the preamble of the WTO Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) as a non-trade concern that should be given consideration in trade negotiations, along with protecting the environment and the possible negative effects of the implementation of the agreement on the net food-importing developing countries. However, during the last food crises, global food prices spiked in unprecedented ways and world food markets were disrupted in such a way that many countries, scholars, and developmental institutions questioned the reliance on trade and world markets to solve developing countries’ food security issues. The role of WTO and trade disciplines in the AoA was considered not flexible enough to allow countries to pursue their national food security policies. New and old paradigms of food security emerged to emphasize, in different degrees, the relationships between trade, international cooperation, and self- reliance in food production. In this regard, the WTO Chair at SQU is hosting a workshop that addresses these issues.”
Dr. Houcine Boughanmi further said that in addition to price variables, climate change is creating new challenges to the future of food security in the region.
Critically affected
“Agriculture in the MENA region is considered an area that will be critically affected by climate change. Year to year localised production variables are expected to increase, and with potentially negative impacts on the food security of local communities. Trade, as it connects “the land of the plenty to the land of the few”- thereby increasing food availability- could contribute to food security solutions, but more innovative mitigation and adaptation policies are needed to attenuate the negative effects of climate change”. In this context, the workshop sessions will discuss the food security and the WTO DDA agenda; food security and trade policies; strategic food reserves; supply chain and food import management (wheat and staple commodities); food security and climate change; managing food import risks; regional food intra-trade; and global-value chain and food security.