Regional Integration the Key to Food Security in Southeast Asia
Jackson Ewing in Brink Asia
In a piece for Brink Asia, ASPI's Director for Sustainability Jackson Ewing highlights the obstacles Southeast Asia faces in integrating its regional food system in order to enhance food security. This is an excerpt from the article.
Collective food security has been on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) agenda since its founding, and the 2007-2008 food crisis saw this agenda grow in relevance. The 2015 launch of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) is the latest regional integration effort and the most ambitious, seeking to build a single market and production base that promotes equitable development and makes Southeast Asia more globally competitive. In the food space, the AEC is making attempts to harmonize safety standards, improve infrastructure, enable trade and spread modern and sustainable agricultural practices. Where successful, it could be a boon for farmers, consumers and a variety of stakeholders in between.
Yet, headwinds to regional food system integration abound. Countries continue to protect domestic agricultural sectors from competition, retreat from the regional food trade and prioritize domestic production for strategic and political purposes. These policies arise from the trauma of past food price volatility and concerns about future price and supply uncertainty. They also risk impeding regional integration reforms that would do more good than harm.
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