The Political Economy of Food Price Policy
the Case of Rice Prices in Vietnam
Rice is a key agricultural commodity in Vietnam, and the agriculture, forestry, and fisheries sector remains a major source of employment and value addition. This paper uses episodes of rice price volatility to understand how the interplay of market forces and political economy factors caused domestic and world prices to diverge, depriving producers of windfall profits, and preventing markets from clearing. The welfare consequences of mutually-inconsistent agricultural policies suggest that Vietnam and other transition economies must emphasize policy coherence by developing institutions capable of balancing the needs of distinct constituencies, such as net rice producers and consumers.