Trade and markets

The extent and impact of import surges: the case of developing countries

Import surges and their perceived negative effects on producers in an importing country is a sensitive matter, and hence the reporting of such episodes hit headlines. This phenomenon seems to be on the rise particularly since mid-1990s, which is one reason why many observers relate this phenomenon to the opening up of domestic markets with the implementation of the AoA.

Measuring the impact of import surges on local economies is a difficult task requiring sound, in-depth analyses. Nevertheless, simple case studies have the potential of illustrating some of the fundamental issues. For example, from the two country case studies (Senegal and Tanzania) undertaken by FAO using a case study approach, it was found that the impact of rising imports varies markedly in different settings and for commodities.

The results of the preliminary work on this topic, while revealing, indicate, however, that more in-depth analysis needs to be conducted at the level of individual countries reporting cases of import surges. In particular, one of the general observations reached in the course of this study was that there are very few analytical studies on the impact of import surges relative to the widespread concerns and interest on this issue.

With the goal of enhancing agricultural development in developing countries by minimizing the adverse impact of import surges on domestic market, this project provides policy makers with appropriate insights, analytical frameworks and tools to: 1) identify the occurrence of import surges; 2) analyse the effects of the surge on local markets/industry competitiveness, agricultural growth potential and food security; and 3) take appropriate response measures.

The main objectives of this project are to:
1. Analyse the phenomenon of import surges, including rapidly rising imports, in order to develop a critical mass of empirical evidence on the nature and source of the problem, various linkages through which these factors cause or threaten to cause negative effects on agriculture and agro-industries as well as various household groups.
2. Develop a broader understanding of the problem in the developing countries through a process of consultation and debate involving all stakeholders, including the government
3. Make substantive contributions to analytical approaches and methodologies that would ultimately help governments in the affected countries strengthen their capacities on trade surveillance and in responding to the problem.
4. Contribute analyses to inform the debate on trade remedy measures in the context of the WTO agreements.

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