Monitoring the impact of trade agreements on national food environments: trade imports and population nutrition risks in Fiji

Amerita Ravuvu, Sharon Friel, Anne Marie Thow, Wendy Snowdon, Jillian Wate

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Background: Trade agreements are increasingly recognised as playing an influential role in shaping national food environments and the availability and nutritional quality of the food supply. Global monitoring of food environments and trade policies can strengthen the evidence base for the impact of trade policy on nutrition, and support improved policy coherence. Using the INFORMAS trade monitoring protocol, we reviewed available food supply data to understand associations between Fiji's commitments under WTO trade agreements and food import volume trends. Methods: First, a desk review was conducted to map and record in one place Fiji's commitments to relevant existing trade agreements that have implications for Fiji's national food environment under the domains of the INFORMAS trade monitoring protocol. An excel database was developed to document the agreements and their provisions. The second aspect of the research focused on data extraction. We began with identifying food import volumes into Fiji by country of origin, with a particular focus on a select number of 'healthy and unhealthy' foods. We also developed a detailed listing of transnational food corporations currently operating in Fiji. Results: The study suggests that Fiji's WTO membership, in conjunction with associated economic and agricultural policy changes have contributed to increased availability of both healthy and less healthy imported foods. In systematically monitoring the import volume trends of these two categories of food, the study highlights an increase in healthy foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables and whole-grain refined cereals. The study also shows that there has been an increase in less healthy foods including fats and oils; meat; processed dairy products; energy-dense beverages; and processed and packaged foods. Conclusion: By monitoring the trends of imported foods at country level from the perspective of trade agreements, we are able to develop appropriate and targeted interventions to improve diets and health. This would enable national health interventions to both identify areas of concern, and to ensure that interventions take into account the trade context.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-17pp
    JournalGlobalization and Health
    Volume13
    Issue number33
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2017

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