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Trade and Food Security Conceptualizing the Linkages

Listed author(s):
  • Arvind Panagariya

Traditionally, food security is defined in terms of either food self-sufficiency or food self-reliance. The former requires production of various food items in the quantities consumed domestically while the latter requires domestic availability. Based on this distinction, self-sufficiency rules out imports as a source of supply while self-reliance admits them. In modern times, given much larger worldwide capacity to produce food than consume it, few restrictions on the exports of food items in countries with the excess capacity, and the availability of the means of transportation that allow their rapid movement internationally, self-sufficiency makes little economic sense. Instead, what countries need is sufficient capacity to generate foreign exchange by specializing in goods of their comparative advantage and import the excess of quantities consumed over those produced. Therefore, accepting food self-reliance as the means to achieve food security, we may ask how the liberalization of trade in agriculture including food will impact developing countries. In attempting to answer this question, we must distinguish between importers and exporters of the products as also between liberalization in the developed and developing countries. If the objective is to study the impact on the poor, much finer analysis is required since we must decompose the effects at the national level into effects on the poor and non-poor. This is clearly a complex exercise even conceptually so that our goals should be modest. Specifically, it may be wiser to focus on the impact of liberalization on broad groups within the nation rather than go all the way down to the household level as ambitiously suggested by McCulloch et al. (2001).

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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series International Trade with number 0308012.

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Length: 345 pages
Date of creation: 28 Aug 2003
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpit:0308012
Note: Type of Document - Tex/WordPerfect/Handwritten; prepared on IBM PC - PC-TEX/UNIX Sparc TeX; to print on HP/PostScript/Franciscan monk; pages: 345,395,4323247 ; figures: included
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