An overview of arable land use for the world economy: From source to sink via the global supply chain

Elsevier, Land Use Policy, Volume 76, July 2018, Pages 201-214.
Authors: 
X.D.Wu, J.L.Guo, M.Y.Han and G.Q.Chena

As an extension of a previous work (Chen and Han, 2015a), this study explored the arable land use of the world economy from source of exploitation to sink of final consumption via the global supply chain, by means of embodiment accounting that includes the indirect feedbacks associated with both intermediate and primary inputs. In magnitude, the global transfer of arable land use is estimated to be around 40% of the total direct exploitation. The connections as well as imbalances of major economies in intermediate and final trades of arable land use are discussed. Canada, Australia, Argentina, Pakistan and African regions turn out to have a massive deficit of arable land use in both intermediate and final trades. In contrast, the United States, Japan, Mainland China, the United Kingdom, Germany and France obtain a surplus of arable land use in both intermediate and final trades by land displacement in those net exporters. Indices in terms of arable land use self-sufficiency rate by source and that by sink are devised. For India as the biggest source region, around 20% of the arable land resources exploited locally are for final consumption abroad. For the United States as the largest sink region, around 40% of its arable land use originates from foreign regions led by Canada. For Japan as the biggest net importer in both intermediate and final trades, over 90% of its arable land use comes from foreign economies led by African and Asian regions. For sustained development, regions are suggested to be more adapted to the global supply chain based on their behaviors in both intermediate and final trades of arable land use.