For this analysis, data on “effectively applied tariffs” were taken from UNCTAD-TRAINS as hosted in the World Bank’s WITS database (2021).416 The data include Ad Valorem Equivalents for “specific tariffs” which are levied as fixed monetary amounts per imported quantity unit. The “effectively applied tariff” is the lowest duty that a country might apply to a specific imported product from a specific origin country after considering all preferential trade arrangements or trade agreements with that origin country, in addition to the country’s Most Favored Nation (MFN) tariffs (or simply “tariffs” in case the importing country is not a WTO member).be To reflect that some product/country-of-origin combinations matter more in a country’s import basket than others, the “effectively applied tariffs” for product/country-of-origin combinations are weighted by their corresponding import value. The resulting import-value weighted tariff corresponds to the average tariff a country levies on the import value of an item within a food group. Finally, country-level tariff means per food group are averaged across countries included in the four income groups as defined by the World Bank.bf
- Highly processed foods are foods that have undergone multiple stages of processing and that are rich in sugars, salt, oil, or fats or in substances like high fructose corn syrup.417 Excessive consumption of these foods has been found to have detrimental impacts on human health.418,419 To identify these Foods in the tariff data, the analysis employs a mapping provided in Boysen et al. (2019),97 where products included under group four of the NOVA classification developed by Monteiro et al. (2019)417 are matched to individual food items in the Harmonized System at the 6-digit level of the HS. Group 4 in the NOVA classification encompasses products that are identified as “ultra-processed” and include, for example, “(…) pre-prepared ready-to-heat products including pies and pasta and pizza dishes; poultry and fish ‘nuggets’ and ‘sticks’, sausages, burgers, hot dogs, and other reconstituted meat products; and powdered and packaged ‘instant’ soups, noodles, and desserts”.417
- Sugar and confectionary have received considerable policy attention due to potential ramifications for public health, and WHO suggests limiting intakes of free sugars.30 To curb their consumption, many governments have introduced nutrition-based taxes sometimes explicitly targeting imported foods.98 These products are identified through the HS headings 1701 and 1702, capturing sugar for various uses, as well as 1703 (“Molasses”). Additionally, products under heading 1704 are included, covering sugar confectionary and candy.
- Fruits and vegetables, by contrast, are a major source of dietary fibre, essential vitamins and minerals. Evidence suggests that consumption can reduce risk of some types of cancer and cardiovascular disease and prevent weight gain and FAO/WHO recommend consumption of at least 400 g of fruits and vegetables per day (excluding starch roots and tubers).93,420,421,422 Fruits and Vegetables are identified in the tariff data as HS2 chapters seven and eight, which are “Edible vegetables and certain roots and tubers” and “Edible fruits and nuts; peel of citrus or melons”, respectively. From these chapters the HS4 headings covering nuts (0801 and 0802) as well as dried leguminous vegetables (0713) and starchy roots and tubers such as potatoes (0714) are dropped, since they are not considered “Vegetables” as per the definition used for the report at hand (see Box 10, footnote 2).
- Food and beverages are identified through all HS6 codes subsumed under Category 1 of the United Nations Broad Economic Categories (Rev. 4): “Food and Beverages”. To this, the commodities included under HS headings 1004 (“Oats”) and HS heading 1005 (“Maize”) are added.