INTERNATIONAL TRADE can have a major impact on reducing hunger and poverty in developing countries. At the same time, trade provides access to better and cheaper supplies (including food imports) and may stimulate flows of technology and investment. Overall, countries that are more involved in trade tend to enjoy higher rates of economic growth. Indeed, while there is broad agreement that openness to international trade is a fundamental component of a policy mix that can foster economic growth, it is also recognized that, on its own, openness to trade is unlikely to lead to major improvements in a country’s economic performance.
Agriculture and agricultural trade play a particularly important role in both the national economies and the food security of developing countries. Throughout the developing world, agriculture accounts for around 9 percent of GDP and more than half of total employment. Today, 75 percent of poor people live in rural areas, and increases in urban poverty tend to be fuelled by people migrating to the cities to escape rural deprivation.
Agriculture accounts for much of the trading activity of developing countries, particularly those that are most food-insecure. Furthermore, while dependence on agricultural trade has been declining throughout the developing world, it has remained high and relatively stable in the most food-insecure countries. The fact that agricultural trade represents such a large share of the trading activity of countries where hunger is widespread does not imply that agricultural trade contributes to food insecurity.
INCREASING INTEGRATION of international markets has stirred widespread concern that agricultural trade may jeopardize food security in developing countries. At a national level, the proportions of undernourished people and underweight children tend to be lower in countries where agricultural trade is large in proportion to agricultural production. Further analysis suggests that poor access and integration with international markets limits the ability of countries where hunger is widespread to import enough food to compensate for shortfalls in domestic production. As a result, despite spending more than 25 percent of their export earnings on food imports, food-insecure countries depend far more heavily on homegrown food. Recent experience in Viet Nam offers evidence that increasing agricultural exports and integration into international markets can contribute both to economic growth and to reducing hunger, especially when combined with investments in infrastructure and policies that encourage agricultural and rural development (see box).
Where trade liberalization has not been accompanied by policy reforms and investments, on the other hand, the impact on food security has often been ambiguous or detrimental. To cite one example, in the early 1990s Mozambique removed a ban on raw cashew exports that had been imposed to stem a fall in exports of processed nuts. It is likely that cashew production failed to revive because, at the time, Mozambique, like many other African countries, liberalized prices alone without initiating other complementary policy reforms and investments. The key to improving food security for poor farmers lies in ensuring that price reforms are accompanied by policies to ensure that market opportunities are both accessible and credible. Dismantling trade restrictions is expected to provide long-term benefits as investment and jobs shift into sectors in which countries enjoy a comparative advantage. The countries most likely to benefit from trade liberalization are those whose economies are already more advanced and better integrated into international markets.
MUCH OF THE DEBATE about globalization has been centred around the World Trade Organization and the impact of international trade agreements negotiated under its auspices.
Liberalization of agricultural trade is expected to drive up prices for most agricultural commodities. Many developing countries are expected to benefit, however, from reductions in tariffs and subsidies in developed countries. To date, both adherence to the AoA and its impact on food security have proven hard to measure.
Non-trade issues like food security and rural development, which did not receive much attention in the Uruguay Round Agreement, have gained much more prominence in the ongoing Doha Round. Draft proposals tabled in the current Doha Round include several measures intended to address the concerns of developing countries.
Expertise: Health economics and policy, pension economics, risk and insurance management and actuarial science.
Expertise: Business management, education, administration and marketing, leadership and organizational effectiveness. Expertise: Agricultural economics, forest policy, forest economics, environmental science, social sciences, economics, econometrics and finance, hydrology.
Congratulations to the 2013 recipients of the University of Saskatchewan Alumni Association’s Alumni Achievement Awards. Each year, the Alumni Achievement Awards are presented to U of S graduates who advance the reputation of the University of Saskatchewan and the Alumni Association. Recipients will be recognized at the annual Honouring our Alumni reception at TCU Place in Saskatoon on October 24. Elected member of Parliament in 1979, Mayer served in the House of Commons for 15 years and was a member of cabinet for nine years as Minister of Agriculture, Minister of Western Economic Diversification, Minister of State for Grains and Oilseeds, and Minister of State for the Canadian Wheat Board. Mayer was a Canadian representative during negotiations for the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).
Throughout his political career, Mayer worked tirelessly to ensure the viability and diversification of the rural economy. In recognition of his service, Mayer is a member of the Queen’s Privy Council, was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Golden and Diamond Jubilee Medals, and is a member of the Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame.


Mitchell earned both of his degrees at the U of S Regina Campus*, where he served as president of the students’ union, vice-president of the Canadian Union of Students and editor of the Carillon student newspaper.
He has long been an advocate for local and national food policy, health-care reforms and affordable housing. For more than 25 years, Mitchell co-ordinated the Churchill Park Greenhouse Cooperative in Moose Jaw.
Mitchell has served a term as mayor of Moose Jaw and is in his third term as city councillor.
Mitchell has served on several boards, including the Saskatchewan Health Coalition, Council of Canadians, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (Saskatchewan), and Food Secure Saskatchewan.
Prior to 1974, when the University of Regina was officially legislated as a separate degree granting institution, students were part of the University of Saskatchewan, Regina Campus, and earned University of Saskatchewan degrees.
The University of Saskatchewan’s strong reputation in clinical and forensic psychology with the Regional Psychiatric Centre drew Dr. He joined the psychology Department at Simon Fraser University (SFU) in 1990, where he developed and directed the Program in Law and Psychology.
Spafford spearheaded the alumni book project, a collection of books authored, edited or illustrated by former U of S students. As a member of the selection committee for the College of Arts and Science 100 Alumni of Influence, he was integral in finding alumni deserving of the award and in establishing important connections of alumni to the U of S that would have otherwise remained unknown. Spafford also conducted extensive research for The Sheaf’s 100th anniversary in 2012, tracking down former editors and staff members for a special anniversary publication. She completed a residency in adult neurology at the Mayo Clinic, a fellowship in medical ethics at Harvard Medical School, and a fellowship in neurological infections and multiple sclerosis at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
Participation in trade allows access to larger markets and opens up opportunities for specialization in production and economies of scale. To the extent that international trade spurs broad-based economic growth, expanded participation in world markets can contribute to improvements in household food security.
It may gradually redistribute world production according to countries’ comparative advantage. But growth rates diverge widely for countries with comparable levels of trade activity, highlighting the importance of other factors in determining economic performance. Nor can it be a substitute for development policies specifically aimed at reducing poverty and hunger. But its relative importance is far greater in those countries where hunger is most widespread.
No sustainable reduction in poverty is possible without improving livelihoods in rural areas. For the developing countries as a whole, agricultural products represent around 8 percent of both exports and total merchandise trade.
These countries trade heavily in agricultural products because agriculture is the mainstay of their economies and they need to import food. Although far from conclusive, analysis of available data suggests that, in general, engaging in agricultural trade is associated with less hunger, not more. Countries where more than 15 percent of the population goes hungry spend more than twice as much of their export earnings to import food as more food-secure countries (see graph).
Countries where more than 15 percent of the population goes hungry import less than 10 percent of their food, compared to more than 25 percent in more food-secure countries.
But the adjustment process may take time and many nations and households may suffer heavy costs. But other countries and regions will have difficulty overcoming physical and infrastructural handicaps, such as inadequate rainfall, long distances from the sea and poorly developed transportation and communication networks.
Commercial farmers with the resources to respond to market opportunities should benefit as a result of higher commodity prices. And much of the concern about food security has focused on the Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) negotiated as part of the Uruguay Round agreements signed in 1994.
This could have a negative impact on food security in some developing countries, as most are net importers of food. Improved access to markets in the industrialized countries and reduced trade distortion should boost rural incomes and employment and stimulate production and supply from local agriculture, particularly of food for domestic markets. Agricultural tariffs remain high and complex for many products that developing countries export, including horticultural products, sugar, cereals, cotton, dairy products and meat.
Many developing countries argue that the problems confronting their agricultural sectors bear little resemblance to the excessive subsidies and rising production surpluses of the developed countries. He was also involved in the agricultural components during negotiations of the Canada – United States Free Trade Agreement. He was an advocate of value-added processing and increased control of the producers in the marketing of their products.
James Ogloff, MA’86, for his groundbreaking contributions to criminal justice and pioneering efforts in education and the practice of clinical forensic psychology.
He later became SFU’s first endowed professor in psychology and served as the first director of mental health services for BC Corrections. Ogloff joined Monash University and the Victorian Institute of Forensic Mental Health in Australia as foundation professor of clinical forensic psychology.


After retiring in 2002, he worked closely with University Archives to tell the story of the university. Farrah Mateen, MD’05, for her internationally recognized research and scholarship in global health and neurology.
She is expected to defend her PhD in international health epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in late-2013.
Mateen joined the Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Neurology at Harvard Medical School to begin a program in global health and neurology—the first dedicated program of its kind in North America.
Mateen has already authored more than 80 academic papers, with some appearing in noted journals such as The Lancet and the Journal of the American Medical Association, and she has received many awards and honours, including the prestigious American Academy of Neurology Founders’ Alliance Award. This can be of special importance for developing countries, particularly for smaller ones where the limited size of domestic markets discourages full use of production potential. Inevitably this means that in some countries certain industries may shrink, either absolutely or relative to others, as cheaper imports become available.
Such factors include natural resource endowments and the size, skills and training of the workforce, as well as policies and institutions.
In countries where more than 34 percent of the population are undernourished, agriculture represents 30 percent of GDP, and nearly 70 percent of the people rely on agriculture for their livelihoods (see graphs). But for the countries where hunger is most prevalent, the share rises to over 20 percent (see graph). But it is in the countries with the least hunger that agricultural trade looms largest in relation to the scale of their agricultural economies (see graph).
But their poverty and limited trading activities constrict both their export earnings and their ability to buy more food on international markets.
Their relative isolation from international trade appears to be more a measure of vulnerability than of self-sufficiency. But at least half the higher prices received for exports went not to farmers but to traders, and there was no revival in production in response to the higher prices.
By contrast, investing in rural infrastructure, improving rural financial markets, and regulating the activities of traders are much harder to do and much harder to reverse. They run the risk of being bypassed and finding themselves trapped in a vicious circle of disadvantage.
For landless households, increased demand for rural labour, goods and services may increase incomes enough to offset the impact of higher food prices. The AoA says little explicitly about developing countries’ concerns with food security. Prices are expected to rise more steeply for the food products that developing countries import than for the commodities they export. There is also a significant degree of tariff escalation (see box) on products processed from commodities for which many developing countries enjoy a comparative advantage, such as coffee, cocoa and oilseeds.
But guaranteed subsidies have encouraged US cotton farmers to increase production, even as the price of cotton has collapsed, threatening the very existence of African farmers who survive by growing cotton for export.
Rather, the vast majority of developing countries face problems of inadequate production and of support that falls short of what would be needed to raise agricultural productivity to levels that would meet their food needs and agricultural potential. During the drought in Western Canada during the mid-1980s, he was instrumental in securing federal assistance for prairie farmers. It not only improved the diet of participants, it provided food for the Moose Jaw Food Bank, for a local school lunch program and farmers’ markets in Moose Jaw and Regina. His education here served as the foundation for his career-long interest in clinical forensic psychology. While archivists provide administrative histories of the U of S, ensuring we have evidence to understand the university and its functions, Spafford gave new insight into what gives life to the institution—its people. The resulting changes in the production structure and reallocation of resources may have a negative impact on food security, at least in the short term. At the same time, Mozambican processing plants lost their assured access to raw cashews and closed down, putting 7 000 people out of work. Subsistence farmers, on the other hand, may be largely unaffected, but could face pressure from higher prices for land, water, fertilizer, seeds and other inputs. Another provision would establish a Special Safeguard Mechanism allowing developing countries to impose additional import duties under certain circumstances, such as to contain import surges.
He has served as president of associations, including the Canadian Psychological Association, the American Psychology Law Society, the Australian and New Zealand Association of Psychiatry, Psychology and Law, and has received awards for his work from psychological associations in Canada, the U.S. Unemployment may rise, some productive sectors in agriculture may decline, and the food system may become increasingly concentrated, shutting out small-scale farmers and firms. The EU has become the world’s second largest sugar exporter, even though its production costs are more than double those in many developing countries.



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