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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Policy Paper 17: Regional Economic Cooperation: The Role of Agricultural Production and Trade in Northeast Asia

  • Author(s): Carter, Colin
  • Lee, Hyunok
  • Sumner, Daniel
  • et al.

The role of agriculture in Northeast Asian cooperation has been important for many years. However, the end of the Cold War and the recent security concerns in Northeast Asia have made this issue more urgent. In addition, recent developments in international agricultural relations have changed the context in which nations of the region are now making agricultural and food-related policy. These broader issues provide the context for this paper.

It has long been understood that food and agriculture are vital to the security of any nation or region. However, the nature of this relationship is sometimes misunderstood: it is easy to overlook the fact that a goal of food and agricultural security is consistent with a goal of economic progress and overall economic security. It is now more widely accepted that liberalized trade and privatization of agriculture are critically important for economic development and income growth, whereas restricted trade and food self-sufficiency objectives diminish economic growth and security. This theme underlies the argument of the present paper.

The overall objective of the paper is to describe the current agricultural situation in North Korea, South Korea, China, and Japan with reference to the issues of food security and agricultural cooperation. The paper will succinctly describe trends in agricultural supply, demand, and trade for each of the four countries. In addition, where important for understanding supply and demand trends, there will be a brief explanation of the impact of recent developments in domestic agricultural policy. A discussion of future subregional cooperative possibilities concludes the paper.

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