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The political dimension of agricultural markets information: views from within China

Working Papers N°07/2015. Iddri, 2015. 26 p.

L'information sur les marchés agricoles et alimentaires mondiaux est devenue, au cours des dernières années, l'un des enjeux clés pour la gestion nationale et internationale des crises de volatilité des prix. La réflexion sur l'établissement de systèmes internationaux de gestion de l'information est plus que jamais à l'ordre du jour, mais sa mise en oeuvre fait face à d'importantes contraintes liées aux situations nationales particulières.

En explorant le système chinois d'information des marchés agricoles, cet article vise à décrypter la question du point de vue national et à analyser ces contraintes particulières, qui sont, en Chine, principalement de deux natures : d'une part, l'ampleur de la difficulté à récolter l'information, pour laquelle des solutions existent mais dont l'application ne dépend pas toujours de la bonne volonté du gouvernement ; le fait, d'autre part, qu'il n'est pas nécessairement dans l'intérêt de l'ensemble des acteur publics qui forment le gouvernement de promouvoir la transparence de l'information.

Messages clés [en anglais] :

  • BETTER AGRICULTURAL DATA: FOR WHAT?

A public statistical system providing accurate data on Chinese agricultural markets is necessary both for China to monitor the efficiency of its agricultural support and to improve the governance of global food security.

  • FAILINGS IN THE CHINESE STATISTICAL SYSTEM

The Chinese current statistical system faces important failings that prevent it from gathering accurate data, which severely affects both public and private players. The causes for these failings are rooted in the cadres evaluation scheme, in the level of decentralization of the government, in the fragmentation of agricultural production and in corruption issues linked to the national reserves system.

  • MAKING DATA PUBLIC?

A key question that remains, beyond the one of accuracy, is the one of information displaying. It is currently unlikely that the Chinese government make a number of figures available to the public, for reasons linked to political stability within the government, where views differ among administrations.

  • INVOLVEMENT IN THE WORLD AGRICULTURAL ORDER

The inevitable increase in the country’s reliance on global markets makes the new leadership willing to become more involved internationally. The desire to improve the agricultural markets information system domestically, the diversity of views within the government and the increasing need to be heard in international forums hold out the hope that the situation evolves.