Business and Economics > Agribusiness

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International Monetary Fund

Abstract

This paper reviews major issues and developments in the trade area and outlines the challenges governments face as they seek to liberalize trade in the Uruguay Round of trade negotiations and address new trade issues. In industrial countries, the reorientation of policies was most apparent in steps taken to liberalize financial markets and foreign direct investment, privatize public enterprises, and deregulate services, particularly in the transportation and communication sectors. Among developing countries, a growing number recognized the merits of outward, market-oriented policies and took steps to liberalize their trade regimes and open their economies to international competition. By and large, the increased focus on market principles in industrial countries did not carry over to trade and industrial policies or, most notable, to the agricultural sector. Despite strong growth performance in 1983–1989, little progress was made in rolling back the protective barriers that had risen during the preceding recessionary period; protection persists in agriculture and declining sectors and has spread to newer high-tech areas.

International Monetary Fund

Abstract

This paper discusses commodity prices might serve as a useful leading indicator of inflation, based on the relative importance of flexible auction markets for the determination of these prices. They thus may have a tendency to respond relatively quickly, especially in response to monetary disturbances. Estimation of alternative commodity-price indexes, in which the weights are chosen so as to minimize the residual variance in aggregate inflation regressions, was not fully successful. The commodity prices do have a useful role to play as an aid in predicting inflation, so long as one is careful to interpret the relationships qualitatively and in the context of more general macroeconomic developments. The ratio of consumer to commodity price movements’ changes over time, and the relative price of commodities undergoes long sustained swings; nonetheless, the qualitative linkages are quite evident in the data. Perhaps most importantly, turning points in commodity-price inflation frequently precede turning points in consumer-price inflation for the large industrial countries as a group.