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Food Security and the International Wheat Agreements

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Abstract

The paper examines the issues involved in reaching a workable international agreement on reserve stocks for wheat. The paper is divided into two parts. In the first part, there is an examination of past efforts to achieve greater food security through international wheat agreements and food aid and an evaluation of the extent to which they succeeded until 1969, when the pricing provisions of the agreement broke down. There is a survey of the institutions that were created following the World Food Conference in 1974, an examination of the issues that have prevented the successful conclusion of a new agreement in the 1970's, and a review of the direction of current negotiations. In part 2, the issue of wheat price stability is examined against the background of the objectives of the major participants in the international market. It is argued that the determination of appropriate measures to ensure world food security has been hampered by domestic agricultural objectives of the major trading nations. Even if agreement on a reserve stock could be reached, it is probable that a reserve stock alone would be inadequate to achieve price stabilization without some change in the trade policies of the major trading nations. Since it is unlikely that these policies will e completely abandoned, it is argues that an international code of conduct to limit their harmful effect is appropriate. The outlines of such a code are suggested.

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1981-04

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Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, Cornell University

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