A new vision for agriculture
momagri, movement for a world agricultural organization, is a think tank chaired by Christian Pèes.
It brings together, managers from the agricultural world and important people from external perspectives,
such as health, development, strategy and defense. Its objective is to promote regulation
of agricultural markets by creating new evaluation tools, such as economic models and indicators,
and by drawing up proposals for an agricultural and international food policy.
Focus on issues

The Role of Emerging Economies in Global Food Security

By Shenggen Fan and Joanna Breska,
International Food Policy Research Institute

China, India and Brazil are part of the group known as the "BRIC", countries that have become emerging superpowers in just a few years. These "emerging giants", which are key players in the international arena, currently participate in the new global economic reality and weigh more in trade negotiations.

This is particularly true in agriculture. Today, China, India and Brazil are considered true "agricultural powers" in terms of production, exports and imports and will set the rules for tomorrow's agriculture alongside the historic actors: the United States and Europe.

On a political level, these three countries have more say in trade negotiations at the WTO. On an economic level, their decisions regarding their agricultural policies and import and export volumes have a strong impact on international trade. Finally, in terms of food security, China, India and Brazil will be key players in the world’s fight against hunger because of the previous points and because of their demographic and social characteristics.

This is what IFPRI researchers declared in their recent report "The Role of Emerging Countries in Global Food Security " 1 and we invite you to read an excerpt.

Momagri editorial team

The Role of Emerging Economies in Global Food Security

Emerging countries can play a twofold role in combating global food insecurity. First, given the large share of the world’s undernourished living in India, and to some extent China, policies and initiatives to combat hunger and increase global food security are especially pertinent within these emerging countries.

Second, emerging countries increasingly affect growth and development prospects in developing countries directly, through aid, trade, and foreign direct investment (FDI), and indirectly, through commodity prices and competition in third markets.

Agricultural production and productivity growth

China and India, as well as Brazil, play a dominant role in the global production of food products, including staple crops such as wheat, maize, and rice. China and India are the world’s largest producers of wheat and rice and, along with Brazil, were among the top five producers of maize in 2008. Their production and productivity growth have a critical impact on global food security.

The three emerging countries, particularly Brazil and China, have experienced robust and sustained productivity growth in the agricultural sector since the 1970s, with technological change and agricultural research (alongside macroeconomic stability and institutional reforms) playing important roles. All three emerging countries have increased their agricultural spending in absolute terms since the 1980s and have invested heavily in their public agricultural research systems.

As a result, they accounted for 41 percent of the developing world’s public agricultural research and 19 percent of global agricultural research and development (R&D) spending in 2000, the last year for which global comparisons are available. The technologies and know-how from these emerging economies have the potential to spill over to other developing countries. China has already set up many demonstration stations in Africa, and Brazil has introduced several initiatives to transfer Brazilian technologies to Africa.

Rising role in international trade

Trade flows between emerging and developing countries have been on the increase, surpassing levels of trade between emerging and developed countries in recent years. Trade relations with emerging countries have a significant food security dimension. The three countries are among the major exporters of a number of major food crops, and as a result their export and production policies have a significant effect on food prices and supplies in many developing countries.

Increasing trade with emerging countries offers developing countries the opportunity to expand markets for exports and to obtain cheaper imports. It also, however, poses the risk of displacing domestic producers by perpetuating old North-South patterns of trade that increase the dependence of developing countries on exports of primary commodities rather than promoting the development of more value-added exports or manufacturing activities. Given the growing demand for natural resources among emerging countries, there is a broad consensus that the main developing-country “winners” from trade with emerging countries (especially China) have been producers and exporters of primary commodities, while the “losers” have been countries and producers involved in labor-intensive manufacturing and commodity chains.

The emerging powers have increasingly demanded a greater say within the global trade system and have become major players in the recent Doha Round negotiations on agricultural liberalization: while Brazil has played a more conciliatory role during the negotiation process, China and India’s unwavering support for emergency tariffs (in direct opposition to the United States and the European Union) has been cited as a contributing factor in the breakdown of trade talks in 2008. The 2007–2008 food price crisis illustrated the impact of trade policies on food security. Export restrictions, together with panic purchases, accounted for most of the increase in world food prices at that time. For example, in response to rapid increases in domestic food prices, India (typically the thirdlargest rice-exporting country) imposed a series of control policies—taxes, minimum price, and bans—on rice exports, thereby exacerbating world price volatility in order to stabilize domestic prices and inflation.

Clearly any decision taken by China, India and Brazil on their agricultural policies affect all international trade.

As the global environment is increasingly more turbulent, it is essential that the international community disposes of regulatory mechanisms adapted to anticipate and respond to any unilateral decision by one of these "giants" which could disrupt all international markets.

This was the case in 2010 with Russia, another BRIC country, and their decision to halt their grain exports after being hit by a drought which destroyed part of their crops.

It is essential to have greater transparency in agricultural production levels, and an effective warning system, coordinated at the highest level by competent bodies.

Momagri editorial team

1 http://www.ifpri.org/sites/default/files/publications/bp015.pdf
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Paris, 19 December 2018