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Who are the net food importing countries ?

  • Ng, Francis
  • Aksoy, M. Ataman

The purpose of this paper is to update the information on net food importing countries, using different definitions of food, separating countries by their level of income, whether they are in conflict and whether they are significant oil exporters. The study also estimates the changes in net food importing status of these countries over the last two and a half decades, and, most important, the study measures the relative importance of these net food imports in the import basket of the countries. Our results show that while many low-income countries are net food importers, the importance and potential impact of the net food importing status has been highly exaggerated. Many low-income countries that have larger food deficits are either oil exporters or countries in conflict. Food deficits of most low-income countries are not that significant as a percentage of their imports. Our results also show that only 6 low-income countries have food deficits that are more than 10 percent of their imports. Last two decades have seen a significant improvement in the food trade balances of low-income developing countries. SSA low-income countries are an exception to this trend. On the other hand, there are a group of countries which are experiencing civil conflicts which are large importers of food, and these countries can not meet their basic needs. They also need special assistance in the distribution of food within their boundaries. Therefore, one should modify the WTO Ministerial Declaration, and focus on these conflict countries rather than the broad net food importers.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 4457.

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Date of creation: 01 Jan 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:4457
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  1. Aksoy, M. Ataman & Beghin, John C., 2005. "Global Agricultural Trade and Developing Countries," Staff General Research Papers 12228, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  2. Hertel, Thomas W. & Keeney, Roman & Ivanic, Maros & Winters, L. Alan, 2006. "Distributional effects of WTO agricultural reforms in rich and poor countries," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4060, The World Bank.
  3. Kym Anderson & Will Martin, 2005. "Agricultural Trade Reform and the Doha Development Agenda," Centre for International Economic Studies Working Papers 2005-17, University of Adelaide, Centre for International Economic Studies.
  4. Merlinda D. Ingco & John D. Nash, 2004. "Agriculture and the WTO : Creating a Trading System for Development," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 14930, September.
  5. McCalla, Alex F., 2001. "What the Developing Countries Want from the WTO," Estey Centre Journal of International Law and Trade Policy, Estey Centre for Law and Economics in International Trade, vol. 2(1).
  6. Harald Grethe, 2006. "Agricultural Trade Reform and the Doha Development Agenda," European Review of Agricultural Economics, Foundation for the European Review of Agricultural Economics, vol. 33(4), pages 591-595, December.
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