Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page


The World Food Summit of 1996 set as a target the halving of the number of undernourished people in the world by 2015. This goal was also adopted by the Millennium Summit in 2000. The progress made so far towards meeting this target was reviewed at the “World Food Summit; Five Years Later” conference in Rome in June 2002. The latest analysis by FAO indicated that if current trends at the national and international levels continue, it is unlikely that this target will be met.

Attention was also drawn to this issue in the Ministerial Declaration of the WTO Doha Conference, held in November 2001, which launched a new round of multilateral trade negotiations. In particular, with respect to agriculture, Ministers agreed that special and differential treatment for developing countries should be an integral part of the negotiations and embodied in concessions and commitments as well as in the rules and disciplines to be negotiated, “so as to enable developing countries to effectively take account of their development needs, including food security...”.

Because most studies of the impact of trade liberalization in developing countries have made only passing reference to the food security situation, Part I of the report seeks to provide a conceptual background to this aspect. It demonstrates the theoretical and empirical origins of much of the policy advice and proposals that inform discussions regarding both food and trade policies, particularly in the context of the Doha Round of international trade negotiations.

The first chapter provides an overview of the issues, sketching out the main factors that govern the interpretation and analysis of food security, and reviewing some definitions and conceptual base of current thinking on the subject. The main tenets of orthodox trade theory and the accepted wisdom of most policymakers regarding the outcome of trade liberalization forms the focus of the second section, which points out some of the shortcomings of these positions. The need to pace reforms and to implement complementary policies to facilitate adjustment to more productive activities and/or compensatory policies to alleviate the possible negative consequences faced by some groups in society is also highlighted. A final section poses a number of key questions relating to food security, answers to which need to inform any discussion of developing countries’ trade policy in the current context.

Chapter 2 provides and in-depth review of food security analysis, tracing the way in which the concept has changed in recent decades. A review of household food security measurements follows, with an analysis of changes resulting from trade liberalization. The chapter concludes by highlighting the complexity of the topic and stressing the importance of both identifying and investigating both chronic and transitory manifestations of food insecurity.

A primarily macroeconomic framework is provided in Chapter 3, using secondary sources to classify countries according to their agricultural and food trading positions. The analysis demonstrates which types of country will be most vulnerable to shifts in world prices consequent upon trade liberalization. The analysis focuses mainly on developed country liberalization, since this is the scenario likely to have the most profound effect on world markets, but some of the implications of developing country liberalization are also reviewed with respect to likely effects for the poorer sections of these countries.

A review of the implications of trade liberalization from the developing country perspective is provided in Chapter 4 where both the risks and the advantages of more open international markets are discussed. Reflecting the range of views on this subject, Chapter 4 draws on material that looks on more open markets with greater favour than the more cautious perspective of Chapter 1, arguing that the food security implications will overall be positive, providing a more comprehensive policy reform matrix is adhered to. Evidence from sub-Saharan Africa is provided in support of this perspective.

Finally, Chapter 5 provides and analytical framework linking trade and food security. The conceptual foundations of food security analysis outlined in Chapters 1 and 2 are investigated in the context of policy formation and implementation. The overarching issues that are likely to emerge within the Doha Round are also presented, together with a framework to help policymakers involved in the food security aspects of the negotiations.

Previous Page Top of Page Next Page