The Impact of Trade Openness, Tariff, and Globalization on Food Security in the ASEAN Region


In 2023, many crises hit the world due to heated geopolitical conditions resulting from the war in Russia and Ukraine; the world situation was fragmented because of competition between the USA and PRC blocs, economic recovery due to COVID-19 was shaken again, and food inflation was soaring high. The leading cause of food insecurity in ASEAN, which consists of most developing countries, is the lack of distribution access due to the affordability of logistics and food supplies. Most investors shift their investment preferences from the primary sector to manufacturing due to the volatility and high risk of assets. In 2020, in Asia, there were 78.7 million toddlers who were stunted, with the second majority in Southeast Asia (27.40%). Although most of the ASEAN member countries are connected geographically, the market share of ASEAN member countries in world trade is only 8.8%, so intra-trade relations are considered not optimal enough. This study aims to analyze the effect of three different trade openness indicators (trade openness, tariffs, and globalization) on the food security of Southeast Asian people in 2000–2021. The method used in this research is panel data, which combines pool least squares (PLS) and fixed effect models (FEM) by developing Beck and Katz’s two panels corrected standard errors (PCSE): cross-section weights and SUR. Trade openness significantly affects the two pillars of food security: stability and utilization, with U-shaped results. Ad-valorem tariffs are significant and positive for the two pillars of food security: availability and utilization. Increasing taxes in Southeast Asia can improve the average dietary energy supply’s adequacy; however, this can also increase the prevalence of stunting in children under five. It happens because the availability of abundant food in terms of quantity differs from the quality and safety of its consumption. The increase in globalization from an economic, political, and social perspective in Southeast Asia is significant for the four pillars of food security; if globalization is increased, then this can positively impact reducing cases of stunting and malnutrition; on the other hand, increasing globalization has harmed food availability and stability. Increasing one policy has a different impact. In the first stage, policy improvements can positively impact a pillar of food security. However, after reaching a turning point, there is a possibility that the increased policy will harm the other pillars. Therefore, it is necessary to choose an integrative policy trade-off and be able to solve problems better. This study suggests several main policy implications, namely building a more assertive trade policy based on the WTO and food safety technical rules that comply with WHO rules, increasing intra-trade within the ASEAN group, maintaining food price stability, encouraging investment in agriculture, promoting governance reforms, and strengthening the regional food security system in terms of production, consumption, and distribution. Support policies are also needed regarding solid prevention efforts against stunting and malnutrition and digitalization (Agritech 4.0), which supports food availability. In addition, this research also suggests that ASEAN can continue to increase domestic food production for resilience to the global crisis.

Keywords: trade openness, tariff, globalization, food security, ASEAN, dynamic panel

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