For one, many of the numbers used in the study rely on guesswork, because retailers do not generally release a breakdown of their imports. Some economists also point out that studies like these do not properly account for the jobs that imports can create in industries like transportation, wholesale and retail. Lopez added. Walmart has long been the subject of criticism from groups like the Economic Policy Institute over its role in flooding the United States with cheap imports. The retailer said at the time that it would buy more goods already produced in the United States, like games and paper, and help vendors in areas like furniture and textiles return production that had moved overseas.
Harold L. Trade policies which emphasise greater market access for food exports and opening of domestic markets for foreign investment have facilitated the creation of food environments full of processed foods, which are often high in fat, salt and sugar [ 8 ]. A systematic approach to monitoring the impact of trade agreements on the food supply at country level is an essential basis for developing appropriate and targeted interventions to improve diets and health. Adapted from Friel et al. As Small Island Developing States, Pacific island countries PICs are particularly vulnerable to the processes of globalisation, which emphasise trade and investment liberalisation [ 9 ].
While trade has been viewed as a necessary development strategy to boost economic growth [ 9 ], trade liberalisation also appears to have created food environments across the PICs that are conducive to the widespread distribution of sugary, salty and fatty imported foods [ 10 , 11 ].
Store surveys carried out in Fiji, Guam, Nauru, New Caledonia and Samoa identified 54 countries of origin for foods sold therein [ 12 ]. In Fiji, local food production has been largely impacted by free market policies [ 13 ] and previous research has shown that a majority of urban and rural populations in Fiji now rely on the cheapest imported foods such as white rice and noodles which have low nutritional quality [ 14 ]. INFORMAS is a global network of public-interest organisations and researchers that aims to monitor, benchmark, and support public and private sector actions to create healthy food environments and reduce obesity, NCDs and their related inequalities [ 16 ].
Fiji gained independence in An array of import tariffs, subsidies and quotas were placed to protect the rice, dairy, poultry, beef, pork and tobacco industries and to reduce competition from imported food. High import tariffs were placed on many processed foods [ 10 ].
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With levels of public debt continuing to increase with the protectionist approach, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank presented advice on a new economic policy direction based on the Washington Consensus, and by a new policy direction favouring an outward-looking export strategy was replacing the import substitution strategy [ 17 ]. Two military coups in increased this momentum [ 18 ] and the post-coup government continued to implement key reform measures that were less trade-restrictive and Fiji adopted a phased program to remove import licensing requirements and quantitative import restrictions, reduce tariffs, deregulate financial markets, reform the tax system, reform public enterprises and boost exports [ 17 ].
From all import licensing controls on agricultural products including all food products were removed and these were replaced by tariffs [ 19 ]. Fiji chose a single bound rate of 40 per cent for all agricultural products, except for rice and milk powder [ 19 ].
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Besides the removal of import licenses and the tariff reforms taking place, changes in food imports to Fiji was also accompanied by the restrictions imposed on non-tariff measures falling under the WTO provisions. Article III of GATT deals with the principle of national treatment on imported goods with regard to internal taxations and regulations. The national treatment obligation under Article III calls for non-discrimination against imported goods. Fiji became a member of the WTO in Adapted from: Friel et al. In , a new government took office and outlined a new programme of quantitative restrictions, increased tariffs and input subsidies to restore protection to the ailing rice industry and the agricultural sector as a whole.
Changes in government policies resulting from a third and fourth military coup in the year and have since reintroduced import substitution measures and there have been relapses in tariff levels given that tariff remains a main trade policy instrument for Fiji [ 20 ]. The associated food import volumes, tariffs and the type and country of origin of foreign investment from transnational food corporations coming to Fiji from all signatory countries to the WTO agreements during the study period is presented.
The focus of the study is on the links between trade agreement provisions and food availability at the national level in Fiji. The INFORMAS trade monitoring framework and associated data collection protocol was used to guide the selection of indicators and analysis [ 15 , 21 ]. Suggested food categories on which to focus were identified from the literature and reflected the current Fijian diet [ 12 , 22 ]. Specific food categories were selected based on Fiji data captured in a Store Survey conducted for the Pacific region [ 12 ]. These are common elements of trade agreements that could have an impact on the healthfulness of food environments and have also been reviewed in the Pacific islands context presenting opportunities and risks for the prevention and management of NCDs [ 24 ].
In this analysis, we focus on the minimal monitoring approach in two of the domains: trade in goods, and trade in services and foreign direct investment. The interrogation of policy space domain 4 was also identified as being better captured using qualitative data methods. For this reason we focus now on trade in goods, and trade in services. Data was obtained for the following indicators relating to these two domains: total food import volumes; focus food category import volumes; actual and bound tariff rates for focus foods, and the type and country of origin of all foreign-owned transnational food corporations TFCs operating within Fiji.
For total food import volumes, data were selected by food import categories as defined by the Fiji Bureau of Statistics FBOS and the specific classification codes used to classify these food items. The NNS Reports reflect dietary-intake patterns and the most common fresh fruits and vegetables found in the diet of the major ethnic groups.
Data collection concerning food-related foreign direct investment into Fiji was limited and data presented in this paper was collected through the International Trade Centre ITC database. There were WTO member countries exporting food into Fiji by In deciding the years to monitor food import volumes i. Additionally, these single points were used because of the limited data available for specific foods for the to period. Annual trade data from to was not readily available. Annual trade data from to was not segregated to reflect specific food categories that we were monitoring and only included major trading partners that Fiji traded with and not every country in the WTO.
Detailed food import volume data is only now available for data dating back to as Fiji only implemented the Automated Systems of Customs Data ASYCUDA which captures and implements all international standards for trade data by specific categories in Consequently, we were unable to smooth data by using multiple year averages and had to select single points instead. Information on applied and bound tariffs for previous years were not readily available and as outlined in the protocol paper [ 23 ], Fiji Budget summaries and WTO Trade Update Reports were consulted for preceding years.
Given the single points that we had selected to monitor food import volumes, in this paper we only reported tariff rates for these corresponding years i. For the year , there was no information on applied and bound tariffs for the specific food categories that we were monitoring, thus no tariff data is reported for in this paper. Nevertheless, to demonstrate the trend in food import volumes pre-trade liberalisation and post-trade liberalisation, food import volume data is presented in the results section as it reflects total food import volumes before any tariff duties were introduced and before trade liberalisation took effect.
The total volume of food imports into Fiji is from WTO member countries. As shown in Fig. The decline in food import volumes in the year is likely the result of both the re-introduction and implementation of import substitutions measures in the late s [ 10 ] and the third military coup in May of that year. Fiji total import volume with WTO member countries for selected years.
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At accession to WTO in , all agricultural products including food products had tariffs set at either 0 per cent, 3 per cent, 10 per cent, 20 per cent or at the maximum ad valorem tariff set at 27 per cent. From , a revised tariff structure was implemented and consisted of four tariff bands 0 per cent, 5 per cent, 15 per cent and 27 per cent but new changes introduced during the Fiji Government Budget has increased all the tariffs in the 27 per cent band to 32 per cent [ 20 ]. As part of its WTO obligation, Fiji is not only required to progressively reduce its tariff levels on imported products, but it is also required to narrow its dispersion of tariffs in accordance with Article XXVIII bis on tariff negotiations.
These were for citrus, tomatoes, rolled oats, and healthy breakfast cereals. Tariff rates for all other healthy foods categories remained the same except for potatoes which had a These were yoghurt, ice-cream and edible ices, crisps and snacks, noodles, sweet biscuits and sweet packaged breakfast cereals.
This is in contrast to tariff reductions occurring for the years and , which were largely in the range of 5 to 22 percentage points. The country of origin of the food products mirrored the country with which Fiji had traditional economic and political ties, for example, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, United States and the European Union, and those with which Fiji has more recently had growing economic and political ties with namely Indonesia, Malaysia, China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines.
Overall, the selected healthy focus foods came from 15 major trading partners while less healthy focus foods were from 35 major trading partners as far as South and North America, Europe, Middle East, Asia and Oceania. Volume of healthy food imports to Fiji, over the selected years from major WTO importing countries. Cordial juices, soft drinks and energy drink imports into Fiji for the selected years from WTO partner countries.
Source: Data on soft drinks was not available in the to data sets. Data on energy drinks was not available in the to data sets. The changes in volume of selected healthy food imports to Fiji varied in the selected time period, from to The insert below Fig. This was followed by a dramatic decrease in and a slight increase in This is likely to correspond to the tariff reforms and removal of import licensing controls that Fiji was undertaking as a result of its accession to the WTO and its conformity to these provisions — see section on Tariffs.
In terms of other healthy food categories, Fig. Staple, whole-grain cereals and pulses, nuts and seeds also increased in but then decreased in Volume of select less healthy food imports to Fiji, over the selected years from major WTO importing countries. In , the removal of import licensing controls on 34 food items including white rice, meat products, snack foods, non-alcoholic beverages including energy-dense beverages and sugar opened up the Fiji market for increased imports of these between and In , a protective tariff for white rice was set at 40 per cent.
Consequently, this corresponded to a slight decrease in volume in and a more significant decrease in volume in , suggesting a possible time-lag effect. Also, when tariffs were reduced in , volumes for foodstuffs, interestingly, increased. Between and tariff on edible oils and spreads decreased from 25 per cent to 15 per cent, except for butter.