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Peer-Review Record

Telecoupled Food Trade Affects Pericoupled Trade and Intracoupled Production

Sustainability 2019, 11(10), 2908; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11102908
Reviewer 1: Anonymous
Reviewer 2: Anonymous
Sustainability 2019, 11(10), 2908; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11102908
Received: 18 April 2019 / Revised: 9 May 2019 / Accepted: 13 May 2019 / Published: 22 May 2019

Round  1

Reviewer 1 Report

This paper tries to use ARIMA model to analyze and predict trade flows between China and its South American trade partners (i.e., Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, etc.). The authors propose two novel concepts – intracoupling and pericoupling – to investigate how telecoupling will impacts production within a region and trade between neighbor countries. Despite ARIMA models did some job in explaining historical patterns and predict future trends, the model neglects an important component – neighbors. The main goal of this study is to understand how this “neighbor” effects play a role in telecoupling relationships. A more appropriate method would be spatial statistics which defines neighbors using a weight matrix and study how adjacent effects will impact the trade relationships in history. The authors point out many socio-economic drivers that potentially explain the historical trade patterns without quantifying them. By using spatial statistics, this problem can be easily solved. The authors also studied wheat and corn along with soybeans. However, wheat and corn trade in the introduction sections are under-addressed.

Author Response

Point-by-Point Responses (red) to Reviewer 1 Comments (black)

Reviewer 1, Point 1: This paper tries to use ARIMA model to analyze and predict trade flows between China and its South American trade partners (i.e., Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, etc.). The authors propose two novel concepts – intracoupling and pericoupling – to investigate how telecoupling will impacts production within a region and trade between neighbor countries. Despite ARIMA models did some job in explaining historical patterns and predict future trends, the model neglects an important component – neighbors. The main goal of this study is to understand how this “neighbor” effects play a role in telecoupling relationships. A more appropriate method would be spatial statistics which defines neighbors using a weight matrix and study how adjacent effects will impact the trade relationships in history.

Response 1: We are grateful for the reviewer’s time and thoughtful comments that have strengthened our manuscript. We have addressed the comments point by point and left changes highlighted in yellow in the revised manuscript. For clarity, the reviewer comments are in black text and our responses are in red text.

The ARIMA models have been updated by adding a telecoupling covariate (e.g., the respective countries exports to China) and a pericoupling covariate (e.g., the respective countries imports from adjacent countries), Table S1. Briefly, Brazil’s pericoupled soybean imports had a significant relationship with Brazil’s telecoupled soybean exports to China; Uruguay’s pericoupled soybean imports had a significant relationship with Uruguay’s telecoupled soybean exports to China; Brazil’s wheat imports from Paraguay had a significant relationship with Brazil’s soybean exports to China. The coefficients can only be interpreted relative to the previous value of the dependent variable (i.e., Yt-1) and we not included. We attempted to update all the models using spatial statistics, however, in many cases the models became over specified resulting in worse AIC and validity measures. We have also included NRMSE/ σ and MASE in Table S1.

Reviewer 1, Point 2: The authors point out many socio-economic drivers that potentially explain the historical trade patterns without quantifying them. By using spatial statistics, this problem can be easily solved.

Response 2: Thank you for your comment. We have included spatial statistics where possible and added additional text, lines 143, 146-148, 172-175, 268-270, 277, 318-319, 332-333 347-349, 363 and 404 and Table S1.

Reviewer 1, Point 3: The authors also studied wheat and corn along with soybeans. However, wheat and corn trade in the introduction sections are under-addressed.

 Response 3: Thank you for your comment. We have included justification for the inclusion of wheat and corn in lines 76-80 and 374-383.

Reviewer 2 Report

I appreciate the effort and work that have been put into this study. However, the paper needs to be substantially improved before suggesting for publication. Below I provide comments and suggestions, which hopefully, will improve the quality of the manuscript:

Introduction

The manuscript discusses the importance of the topic; however the contribution of the study to the current literature should be clearly mentioned. One short paragraph summarizing all contributions to the current literature in Introduction section is not enough. Moreover, the study lacks an appropriate theoretical framework which might show a systematic study approach to the topic. In other words, it is important to identify relevant theories that would explain the importance of the topic. Therefore, extending literature review with a theoretical framework would provide more insights to the reader. In addition, the paper should provide a clear justification why Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay has been chosen as a research context.

Materials and Methods

Materials and Methods section should be improved. The validity and reliability were not at all discussed, which means the results and conclusions are questionable.

Results

Practical, theoretical, and social implications of the study should be thoroughly discussed.

Further, a distinct section regarding “Conclusion” should be developed. The conclusion section should highlight more clearly how the results compare with the recent literature review.

The text should be edited following the journal template (see, for instance, references).

Author Response

Point-by-Point Responses (red) to Reviewer 1 Comments (black)

Reviewer 2: I appreciate the effort and work that have been put into this study. However, the paper needs to be substantially improved before suggesting for publication. Below I provide comments and suggestions, which hopefully, will improve the quality of the manuscript:

Response: We are grateful for the reviewer’s time and thoughtful comments that have strengthened our manuscript. We have addressed the comments point by point and left changes highlighted in yellow in the revised manuscript. For clarity, the reviewer comments are in black text and our responses are in red text.

Reviewer 2, Point 1: The manuscript discusses the importance of the topic; however, the contribution of the study to the current literature should be clearly mentioned. One short paragraph summarizing all contributions to the current literature in Introduction section is not enough.

Response 1: We appreciate the reviewer’s comment. We have increased the contributions from literature to MS in the introduction, line 40-56.  We have increased the contributions from MS to the literature, lines 66-83.

 Reviewer 2, Point 2: Moreover, the study lacks an appropriate theoretical framework which might show a systematic study approach to the topic. In other words, it is important to identify relevant theories that would explain the importance of the topic. Therefore, extending literature review with a theoretical framework would provide more insights to the reader.

Response 2: Thank you for comment. We have added a new section (2.2 Relevant Theories) starting at line 104 in the methods section to address the lack of appropriate theory. Specifically, we included the teleconnections, globalization, complex adaptive systems, scaling theory and the theory of international trade to further support the metacoupling framework.

Reviewer 2, Point 3: In addition, the paper should provide a clear justification why Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay has been chosen as a research context.

Response 3: Thank you for your comment. We have added additional text to support the inclusion of Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay in lines 69-83.

Reviewer 2, Point 4: Materials and Methods section should be improved. The validity and reliability were not at all discussed, which means the results and conclusions are questionable.

Response 4: Thank you for your comment. We have included NRMSE/ σ and MASE in Table S1. Several other measures of validity were considered, the presented values were chosen for based on feasibility and interpretability. RMSE is only interpretable relative to the model scale and cannot be used for comparison, while NRMSE/ σ and MASE are standardized and can be used to compare between models, in both cases values >1 indicate a model is mostly noise. Time-series cross-validation was limited by data availability. Significance tests were included for the influence of pericoupling on telecoupling and vice versa. Additional text has been added to lines 143, 146-148, 172-175, 268-270, 277, 318-319, 332-333 347-349, 363 and 404.

Reviewer 2, Point 5: Practical, theoretical, and social implications of the study should be thoroughly discussed.

Response 5: Thank you for the suggestion, a new concluding paragraph has been added to discuss social, political and theoretical implications, lines 412-421.

Reviewer 2, Point 6: Further, a distinct section regarding “Conclusion” should be developed. The conclusion section should highlight more clearly how the results compare with the recent literature review.

Response 6: Thank you for the suggestion, a new paragraph placing the present findings in the context of recent research has been added to lines 372-391.

Reviewer 2, Point 7: The text should be edited following the journal template (see, for instance, references).

Response 7: Thank you for your careful review. And our apologies for this careless mistake. The references have been updated in accordance with the Sustainability guidelines by downloading the MDPI endnote file.

Round  2

Reviewer 1 Report

The authors added variables of bilateral soybean trade between South American countries and China to consider the telecoupling and pericoupling effects. The authors well addressed my comments.

Reviewer 2 Report

The manuscript has been improved substantially. The authors had provided sufficient background and include relevant references. The methods is adequately described. The results are clearly presented. The conclusions are supported by the results.

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