Trend towards more open and market-oriented economies continue in many countries and together with the international community, the U.S. is also confronted with issues that cannot be fully addressed by market forces. This paper will discuss several of those external factors: the security and stability of socio-economic systems; non-economic concerns, including environmental sustainability and safety issues; technologies undergoing rapid developments, particularly in the areas of information, communication and biotechnology.
Since the establishment of the World Trade Organization (WTO), trade and financial markets have become increasingly integrated and concurrently regional and sub regional trading arrangements have multiplied. International agreements are rapidly increasing as countries recognize the need for greater discipline and cooperation in addressing common issues. Countries are now required to have more knowledge and analytical capacity in the legal, technical, and economic aspects of diverse and complex matters. Poorly developed infrastructures in many parts of the world, e.g., roads, transport, and storage facilities are not yet adequate to support efficient marketing of their products.
Farmers producing perishable crops suffer major losses and are unable to compete when they cannot get their crops to market in time.
Official development assistance (ODA), a critical source of finance for many countries and sectors, has been on a steady decline, raising the risk of divergence between the world's wealthier and poorer economies. Agricultural development and support to food security in the low-income food-deficit countries have been severely affected by reductions in ODA. Negative effects and high levels of risk, particularly for the poorer population groups, stressing the social fabric beyond reasonable limits, have often accompanied economic policy reform. Market forces are not adequate for tackling some areas of concern, such as food security, environmental and safety issues and, more important, poverty (Food Agriculture Organization, 2000).
Consumer demand is diversifying more towards processed, convenient...