Using Quantitative Methods to Explore Political Leverage, Trade Policy, and Food Security: A Case Study of the Middle East
Kishi, Katayoun Mirfendereski
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This dissertation explores why some states consistently secure food imports at prices higher than the world market price, thereby exacerbating food insecurity domestically. I challenge the idea that free market economics alone can explain these trade behaviors, and instead argue that states take into account political considerations when engaging in food trade that results in inefficient trade. In particular, states that are dependent on imports of staple food products, like cereals, are wary of the potential strategic value of these goods to exporters. I argue that this consideration, combined with the importing state’s ability to mitigate that risk through its own forms of political or economic leverage, will shape the behavior of the importing state and contribute to its potential for food security. In addition to cross-national analyses, I use case studies of the Gulf Cooperation Council states and Jordan to demonstrate how the political tools available to these importers affect their food security. The results of my analyses suggest that when import dependent states have access to forms of political leverage, they are more likely to trade efficiently, thereby increasing their potential for food security.