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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

Print version ISSN 1020-4989

Abstract

HAWKES, Corinna  and  THOW, Anne Marie. Implications of the Central America-Dominican Republic-Free Trade Agreement for the nutrition transition in Central America. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2008, vol.24, n.5, pp. 345-360. ISSN 1020-4989.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1020-49892008001100007.

OBJECTIVES: To identify potential impacts of the Central America-Dominican Republic-Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) on food consumption patterns associated with the nutrition transition, obesity, and diet-related chronic diseases. METHODS: Examination of CAFTA-DR agreement to identify measures that have the potential to affect food availability and retail prices. RESULTS: CAFTA-DR includes agreements on tariffs, tariff-rate quotas (TRQs), and sanitary and phytosanitary regulations with direct implications for the availability and prices of various foods. Agreements on investment, services, and intellectual property rights (IPR) are also relevant because they create a business climate more conducive to long-term investment by the transnational food industry. Trade liberalization under CAFTA-DR is likely to increase availability and lower relative prices of two food groups associated with the nutrition transition: meat and processed foods. These outcomes are expected to occur as the direct result of increased imports from the United States and increased production by U.S. companies based in Central America, and the indirect result of increased domestic meat production (due to increased availability of cheaper animal feed) and increased production of processed foods by domestic companies (due to a more competitive market environment). CONCLUSIONS: CAFTA-DR is likely to further the nutrition transition in Central America by increasing the consumption of meat; highly processed foods; and new, non-traditional foods. The public health community should be more aware of the implications of trade agreements for dietary health. Governments and related stakeholders should assess the coherence between changes fostered by specific trade agreements with national policies on diet and nutrition.

Keywords : Economic development; obesity; chronic disease; nutrition disorders; economics; Dominican Republic; Central America.

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