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Views from the Center

CGD experts offer ideas and analysis to improve international development policy. Also check out our Global Health blog and US Development Policy blog.

 

Scrap the G8

Once again the G8 has come up tragically short on climate change and a host of urgent problems affecting poor people in developing countries. The good news is that they are at least discussing the right topics. The first Hokkaido G8 document, on the World Economy spills lots of ink on relations between rich and developing economies, including for example, reaffirmation of support for the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.

Japan Should Release Surplus Rice ahead of G8

Over the past few weeks, rice consumers in Africa and other developing countries have watched anxiously as world prices have fallen steadily, at least in part due to our insistence that Japan and other countries have stocks that can be released on world markets . It is now clear that the speculative bubble has burst -- the "dynamic" in the market is bearish despite set-backs on individual policy fronts. The pressures on rice prices continue to be downward despite everything governments are doing to keep prices up.

Rice Prices Tumble But Remain Out of Reach for Many of the Poor

This is a joint posting with Peter Timmer
Rice prices have continued to tumble this week amid reports that Cambodia is moving to ease export restrictions and other exporters may follow suit. This came after Japan's announcement that it would proceed with sales to the Philippines of 250,000 tons of rice (200,000 tons of imports and 50,000 tons of Japanese rice), and a U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) statement that: "the United States was supportive of Japan's initiative." (Readers who are following this story will recall that the U.S. has the ability to block the re-export of U.S. rice that Japan was compelled to buy but never offered on the domestic market).

Rice Prices Fall After Congressional Hearings But Crisis Not Over Yet

This post is joint with Tom Slayton, a rice trade expert and former editor of The Rice Trader
It has been a busy week in the rice markets following CGD's release on Monday of our note about how to puncture a speculative price bubble that threatens millions of people with malnutrition and worse (see Unwanted Rice in Japan Can Solve the Rice Crisis--If Washington and Tokyo Act ). On Wednesday our proposal was discussed at hearings on the world food crisis in both the House and Senate.

President Bush Can and Should Do More to Address the Food Crisis: Let Japan Sell Its Rice Reserves

This posting is joint with Vijaya Ramachandran

Today, President Bush called on Congress to provide another $770 million in food aid, in addition to the $200 million already allocated through the Department of Agriculture,in order "to keep our existing food aid programs robust."

There is no doubt that these additional funds are much needed to purchase and distribute food to those who are suffering greatly from the current spike in food prices. But the U.S. can and should do more. Specifically, the U.S. must allow Japan to sell, at full cost on Japanese books, the 1.5
million metric tons of rice that it has in storage. About 600,000 tons is
Thai and Vietnamese long-grain rice (high quality) and the rest is US medium
grain (good rice). All of the rice is in Japanese warehouses because of an
agreement with the World Trade Organization, and the U.S. as "cognizant
observer" of the rice agreement, would need to approve the sale of both
the
US and the Thai/Vietnamese rice. Japan currently cannot release this rice
to the World Food Program (or to the world market) without permission from
the U.S., and the Bush administration is yet to move on this.

How NOT to Fix the Global Food Crisis -- France Says Poor Countries Should Provide EU-Style Farm Subsidies, while U.S. Farm Bill Puts Vested Interests First

And now for a really bad idea: according to the Financial Times Michel Barnier, France's farm minister, told a food crisis summit in Berne that Africa and Latin America should adopt their own versions of Europe's Common Agricultural Policy -- massive trade-distorting subsidies -- as a response to rising demand for food.

Trade Policy for a New Deal on Hunger

This is a joint post with Arvind Subramanian

In a Q&A published today, CGD non-resident fellow Peter Timmer estimates that soaring global food prices and panicky starve-thy-neighbor rice export restrictions in Asia could lead to 10 million or more premature deaths in the region if the current high prices are passed along to poor rice consumers.

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