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Global Food Price Inflation: Implications for South Asia, Policy Reactions, and Future Challenges


  • Ahmed, Sadiq

    () (The World Bank)


The surge in global commodity prices of the past few years has presented a tremendous development challenge for South Asian countries. The large loss of income from the terms of trade shock has worsened macroeconomic balances, fueled rapid inflation, and hurt growth. Although commodity prices have come down recently, the benefits are being clouded by the emergence of a severe global financial crisis. The adverse consequences of the food price hike for the poor are large; the global financial crisis could further worsen the situation due to falling economic opportunities and government revenues. South Asian countries need to accelerate reforms to avoid facing a serious downturn in economic activity, investment, exports, and income. Governments in South Asia have responded by stabilizing domestic food prices through a number of short-term measures, tightened monetary policy to reduce inflation, and increased spending on a range of safety net programs for the poor. Some of the policies employed, such as export bans, are not consistent with the long-term welfare of the country or the region. Safety net interventions need to be made consistent with a longer-term poverty reduction strategy and fiscal sustainability. Most importantly, policy attention now needs to shift toward efforts to increase farm productivity, improve rural infrastructure, and lower the vulnerability of the poor.

Suggested Citation

  • Ahmed, Sadiq, 2008. "Global Food Price Inflation: Implications for South Asia, Policy Reactions, and Future Challenges," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4796, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:4796

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Schiff, Maurice, 2001. "Will the Real “Natural Trading Partner” Please Stand Up?," Journal of Economic Integration, Center for Economic Integration, Sejong University, vol. 16, pages 245-261.
    2. Pravin Krishna, 2003. "Are Regional Trading Partners "Natural"?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(1), pages 202-231, February.
    3. Maurice Schiff & Yanling Wang, 2006. "North-South and South-South trade-related technology diffusion: an industry-level analysis of direct and indirect effects," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 39(3), pages 831-844, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Balagtas, Joseph Valdes & Bhandari, Humnath & Mohanty, Samarendu & Cabrera, Ellanie & Hossain, Mahabub, 2012. "Impact of a Commodity Price Spike on Poverty Dynamics: Evidence from a Panel of Rural Households in Bangladesh," 2012 Conference (56th), February 7-10, 2012, Freemantle, Australia 124225, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society.
    2. Mohajan, Haradhan, 2013. "Ethiopia: A socio-economic study," MPRA Paper 52277, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 10 Sep 2013.
    3. Craig Sugden, 2009. "Responding to High Commodity Prices," Asian-Pacific Economic Literature, Asia Pacific School of Economics and Government, The Australian National University, vol. 23(1), pages 79-105, May.
    4. Alem, Yonas & Söderbom, Måns, 2012. "Household-Level Consumption in Urban Ethiopia: The Effects of a Large Food Price Shock," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 146-162.

    More about this item


    adverse consequences; adverse effect; Adverse Effects; Agricultural Productivity; Agriculture; average price; average prices; average productivity; basic needs; binding constraint; buffer stocks;

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