Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The food crisis in the Arab World

"Arab governments tempered public anger at rising food prices by increasing wages and subsidies, but their approach is not sustainable without raising taxes. Instead they should revise agricultural policies, expand social safety nets, and curb excessive energy consumption, argues Carnegie Middle East Center economist Ibrahim Saif.

Examining the response to the crisis by both oil-producing Gulf countries and populous non-oil exporting countries, Saif recommends sustainable alternative policies in his new commentary, The Food Price Crisis in the Arab Countries: Short Term Responses to a Lasting Challenge.

He concludes: “In the short run, there is no quick fix for the crisis created by rising food prices. Particularly in non-oil producing countries, there remains a real danger that people will take to the streets in increasing numbers when they see their livelihoods threatened. And in the Arab countries, the consequences of discontent and anger can easily acquire a geopolitical angle.”"

Links to the full text (pdf) here. I have not read it yet, but the key conclusions from the site do not appear to be specially novel or radical, but they would nevertheless be welcome.

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