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Trade policy and health implication for Pacific island countries

Siope Vakataki ‘Ofa (Pacific Office, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, Suva, Fiji)
Azmat Gani (Department of Economics and Finance, Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat, Oman)

International Journal of Social Economics

ISSN: 0306-8293

Article publication date: 12 June 2017




The purpose of this paper is to examine the effect of trade policy pertaining to imported processed food on poorer health outcomes of people’s in the Pacific island countries.


Using an extended gravity model, the paper adopts the OLS time varying importer/exporter effects method and a Pseudo Poisson maximum likelihood estimator on a cross-sectional panel data set of 215 countries and territories. The estimation procedure controlled for 11 Pacific island countries between 2003 and 2013.


The empirical findings revealed a positive and statistically significant relationship between trade liberalisation and increased processed food imports in the Pacific island countries. The findings also reveal that the access ratio (kg/person) to selected imported processed food high in salt to Pacific island countries has increased significantly over time.


While much of the trade literature reveals positive impact of trade on the prosperity of nations, this study makes a new contribution in terms of supporting a negative impact of trade liberalisation policy on people’s health in small island developing states.



Disclaimer: The findings and views expressed herein are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the positions or views of the United Nations and the Sultan Qaboos University.

The authors acknowledged the useful comments by ESCAP Pacific Office and also participants of the “Pacific Workshop on Nutrition, Non-communicable Diseases and Role of CODEX, 20-22 April 2015, Nadi, Fiji” to the earlier draft of this research.


‘Ofa, S.V. and Gani, A. (2017), "Trade policy and health implication for Pacific island countries", International Journal of Social Economics, Vol. 44 No. 6, pp. 816-830.



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