This is why, to maintain food prices in the medium term, other countries or regions will need to start reducing poverty at rates similar to that of China in the recent past. Bearing in mind the differences in their productive structures, sub-Saharan Africa and India appear to be the best candidates, given that they accounted for 1.4 billion of the world’s poor in 2008 and 60 percent of global population growth.
Will India and sub-Saharan Africa — which grew at annual rates of 7.3 percent and 5 percent respectively during the past decade — assume the role that China has played in recent years?
It seems unlikely, but without them, it is difficult to foresee high prices for commodities — and food, in particular — over the next two decades. In that case, there will be less time left for the countries that have not taken advantage of the current bonanza to lay the foundations of sustainable growth.
Jose Luis Machinea was executive secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, finance minister of Argentina and president of the Central Bank of Argentina.
Copyright: Project Syndicate