NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

G8 Food Security Agenda Should Encourage Greater Economic Freedom

May 24, 2012

In hosting the 38th annual G8 summit May 18-19 at Camp David, President Obama naturally allowed talks to focus on Europe's mounting debt troubles.  However, a fair portion of the discussion moved away from Europe, giving attention instead to food security in Africa, say Terry Miller, director, and Anthony Kim, a senior policy analyst, at the Heritage Foundation's Center for International Trade and Economics.

This is only the latest chapter in the president's multiyear initiative to improve food security on the continent.  President Obama also made a multibillion-dollar food security initiative the centerpiece of his first G8 meeting in 2009, eventually resulting in pledged aid of $22 billion.

However, a wide variety of experts agree that this direct aid will likely do little to improve food security because it fails to address the true source of the problem.  The president's agenda, heavy on aid, is likely to generate more dependency rather than security.  Instead, efforts should focus on enhancing economic freedom on the continent so that Africans can better help themselves.

  • Economic freedom entails the rule of law, limited government, regulatory efficiency and open markets that allow regional economies to thrive.
  • Countries that best promote economic freedom will witness agricultural development (directly addressing food insecurity), economic growth, institutional stability and overall social progress.
  • This multidimensional relationship between economic freedom and enhancing economic security has been promoted in studies by multilateral development organizations such as the World Bank and the African Development Bank.

By promoting these goals and seeking internal economies that are strong, diverse and not simply based on the exploitation of natural resources, African nations can be better prepared to solve their own issues.  There is a place for involvement by G8 countries in this process.

  • Emerging agricultural entrepreneurs greatly need access to integrated African markets and larger markets outside Africa.
  • However, African producers face formidable trade barriers and inefficient competition imposed by the United States and European Union.
  • G8 countries should deliver concrete action, such as ending fiscally ruinous agricultural subsidies that unfairly benefit their domestic producers while marginalizing Africa's impoverished smallholder farmers.

Source: Terry Miller and Anthony Kim, "G8 Food Security Agenda Should Encourage Greater Economic Freedom, Not More Dependency," Heritage Foundation, May 17, 2012.

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