Bilateral Trade and Food Security

Publication | September 2013

The authors analyze the relationship between food security and trade, focusing on food importers' exposure to sudden market failures from relying on a narrow range of international suppliers. They compute a bilateral import penetration index (BIPI), which gauges the degree to which a country depends on another for food imports. Food trade maps are drawn by the application of a force-directed algorithm that sorts through computed BIPIs and maps the nodes corresponding to the strength of bilateral ties between country pairs, thereby showing importers' vulnerabilities to disruptions in bilateral channels. Results suggest that measures aimed at diversifying supply sources reduce vulnerability.


  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • The Role of Trade in Food Security
  • Mapping Food Trade
  • Policies Toward Reducing Vulnerability
  • Conclusions
  • Appendixes
  • References