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Trade Policy and Food Security : Improving Access to Food in Developing Countries in the Wake of High World Prices

Author

Listed:
  • Ian Gillson
  • Amir Fouad

Abstract

Based on forecasts of global population growth, food security will remain an important economic development issue over the next several decades. In addition, real food prices have risen in recent years after decades of decline, bringing the issue of food security even further into the public spotlight. However, there is no global food shortage: the problem is one of moving food, often across borders, from surplus production areas to deficit ones at prices that low-income consumers in developing countries can afford. Trade can be an excellent buffer for domestic fluctuations in food supply. World output of a given food commodity is far less variable than output in individual countries so increased trade integration holds considerable potential to stabilize food prices, boost returns to farmers and reduce the prices faced by consumers. Trade liberalization protects national food markets against domestic shocks by allowing more food to be imported in times of shortage and exported in periods of plenty. Historically, however, most countries have chosen to take the opposite approach by restricting imports of food and discouraging exports to keep domestic markets isolated from international shocks. Food commodity markets, therefore, remain highly distorted despite the wave of liberalization that has swept world trade since the 1980s. In addition to examining the determinants of recent food price spikes, Trade Policy and Food Security explores the impact of food prices on economic welfare, and how the effect of price changes on food security and economic welfare in developing countries can be mitigated through appropriate national policies at the border. It highlights the importance of both the extension and continued application of existing WTO disciplines on trade-distorting agricultural trade policies as a key resolution to the collective action problem witnessed during the recent food price spikes, whereby unilateral border policies--especially export controls--simply exacerbated the initial price increases.

Suggested Citation

  • Ian Gillson & Amir Fouad, 2015. "Trade Policy and Food Security : Improving Access to Food in Developing Countries in the Wake of High World Prices," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 20537, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbpubs:20537
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    Citations

    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Better Than Sliced Bread? How Trade Integration Can Boost Food Security
      by ? in World Bank Blogs on 2015-01-07 22:24:00

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    2. Jarilkasin Ilyasov & Linde Götz & Kamiljon Akramov & Paul Dorosh & Thomas Glauben, 2016. "Market Integration and Price Transmission in Tajikistan’s Wheat Markets: Rising Like Rockets but Falling Like Feathers?," Working Papers id:11177, eSocialSciences.
    3. Charles Peter Mgeni & Stefan Sieber & T. S. Amjath-Babu & Khamaldin Daud Mutabazi, 2018. "Can protectionism improve food security? Evidence from an imposed tariff on imported edible oil in Tanzania," Food Security: The Science, Sociology and Economics of Food Production and Access to Food, Springer;The International Society for Plant Pathology, vol. 10(4), pages 799-806, August.
    4. Braha, Kushtrim & Rajcaniova, Miroslava & Qineti, Artan, 2015. "Spatial Price Transmission and Food Security: The case of Kosovo," 2015 Fourth Congress, June 11-12, 2015, Ancona, Italy 207843, Italian Association of Agricultural and Applied Economics (AIEAA).

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