Food Security in Africa

Food Security in Africa

Market and Trade Policy for Staple Foods in Eastern and Southern Africa

Edited by Alexander Sarris and Jamie Morrison

Drawing on insights from theoretical applications, empirically based approaches and case study experience, this book contributes to the improved design and use of trade and related policy interventions in staple food markets.

Chapter 1: Introduction

Jamie Morrison and Alexander Sarris

Subjects: development studies, agricultural economics, development economics, economics and finance, agricultural economics, development economics, international economics, environment, agricultural economics, environmental geography


Jamie Morrison and Alexander Sarris Trade policy instruments have been used by governments in Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) in pursuit of a range of policy objectives. Import tariffs and export taxes have been used for revenue-raising purposes, and in conjunction with import licensing and export restrictions, to modify trade in an attempt to stabilize domestic staple food availability and food prices for food security reasons. Trade policy remains key in the narrow range of instruments that are feasibly available to many poorer developing countries due to their limited budgetary resources and administrative capacity. Although tariffs have generally been applied at relatively low levels across the region, countries recognize the importance of maintaining bound (allowable) tariffs at higher rates to provide flexibility in their use in support of sectoral development, and as safeguard measures to allow short-term increases in applied tariffs to offset potential damage to domestic sectors as a result of surges in competitive or subsidized imports. Trade policy debates in recent times have been coloured by the fact that the domestic market impacts of freer trade in individual countries have not necessarily been the primary focus of attention. The fora of debate relating to the use of trade policy have generally been in the context of trade negotiations, with often conflicting results of analytical studies used to put pressure on trading partners to encourage further reduction of barriers to trade and to minimize the potential use of safeguard measures. The divisive debates surrounding the potential World Trade Organization...