Nontariff Measures with Market Imperfections: Trade and Welfare Implications: Volume 12

Cover of Nontariff Measures with Market Imperfections: Trade and Welfare Implications

Table of contents

(20 chapters)

John C. Beghin is the Marlin Cole Professor of International Agricultural Economics in the economics department at Iowa State University (ISU). He is the former director of the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute at ISU which he led from 1999 to 2007. He is a leading scholar on agricultural trade policy analysis, with a long-term interest in nontariff measures. He has held positions at North Carolina State University, the OECD Development Centre, the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, the International Labor Office, and the University of Sydney. He has consulted for various international and governmental agencies and private clients including the American Farm Bureau Federation, FAO, OECD, US Army Corps of Engineers, US General Accountability Office, the US Grains Council, and the World Bank among others. He holds a PhD in agricultural and resource economics from the University of California, Berkeley. His research work has appeared in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Canadian Journal of Economics, Ecological Economics, Economics Letters, Environment and Development Economics, Health Economics, Journal of Comparative Economics, Journal of Development Economics, Oxford Economic Papers, Review of Economics and Statistics, and World Development, among other journals.

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Nontariff Measures (NTMs) encompass all policy instruments other than tariffs, from labeling requirements to macro-policies affecting trade. These measures have been growing as tariffs have been greatly reduced and sometimes eliminated through numerous global and preferential trade agreements such as those of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and its predecessor, as well as regional trade agreements (RTAs). Among NTMs particularly, sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures and technical barriers to trade (TBTs) have been proliferating. These measures have much in common as they act as standards affecting cost and potentially demand by addressing market imperfections (asymmetric information, external effects) (Bacchetta & Beverelli, 2012).

This chapter uses a welfare-based conceptual framework for the assessment of costs and benefits associated with nontariff measures in the presence of market imperfections such as asymmetric information and environmental or health externalities. The framework allows for evidence-based comparative assessments of alternative regulatory approaches addressing these imperfections. The conceptual work is illustrated with an empirical case study of labeling internationally traded fish products.

We formally investigate the effects of an inspection system influencing safety of foreign and domestic food products in the domestic market. Consumers purchase domestic and imported food and value safety. Potential protectionism à la Fisher and Serra (2000) can arise: inspection frequency imposed on foreign producers set by a domestic social planner would be higher than the corresponding policy set by a global social planner treating all producers as domestic. The domestic social planner tends to impose most if not all of the inspection on foreign producers, which improves food safety for consumers and limits the production loss for domestic producers. Despite this protectionist component, inspections address a potential consumption externality such as health hazard in the domestic country when unsafe food can enter the country undetected. We then calibrate the analytical framework to the U.S. shrimp market incorporating key stylized facts of this market. Identifying protectionist inspection requires much information on inspection, safety, damages, and costs. We also investigate how to finance the inspection policy from a social planner perspective. Financing instruments differ between the domestic and international welfare-maximizing objectives.

We investigate producers’ choice between geographical indications (GI) and brand advertising (BA) as pure marketing strategies to convey information to consumers. Producers also decide whether or not to select an effort level for improving the quality of their products. We identify conditions under which GI and BA emerge with and without quality effort, depending on the relative costs and effectiveness of marketing strategies and quality improvement. Beyond the conventional equilibrium cases of GI-no-quality-effort and BA-with-quality-effort, we identify several other equilibrium strategies. Under plausible parameter characterization, and in spite of the free-riding problem of collective reputation, producers choose GI and quality improvement efforts at equilibrium. This occurs when the cost of marketing is high, the relative cost of quality effort is low relative to the former, and when the effectiveness of marketing promotions is low. BA without quality improvement also emerges as an equilibrium strategy for the opposite cost structure (low cost of promotion, high cost of effort relative to promotion, and higher effectiveness of promotion). Finally, the joint selection of both instruments BA and GI is examined. We motivate and illustrate our analysis with the European and New-World wine industries.

Can transparency mitigate the trade-distortive effects of nontariff measures (NTMs)? This chapter explores the trade impact associated with promoting greater transparency in NTMs, using a new database of transparency provisions in over 100 Regional Trade Agreements (RTAs). The investigation surveys the incidence and scope of transparency provisions in RTAs, and econometrically assesses the trade effects of these instruments on bilateral agricultural and food trade. The findings demonstrate that transparency provisions in RTAs are associated with greater agricultural trade flows, suggesting that transparency should remain an important element of ongoing policy efforts to make NTMs less onerous for trade in agriculture.

The purpose of the chapter is to test the hypothesis that food safety (chemical) standards act as barriers to international seafood imports. We use zero-accounting gravity models to test the hypothesis that food safety (chemical) standards act as barriers to international seafood imports. The chemical standards on which we focus include chloramphenicol required performance limit, oxytetracycline maximum residue limit, fluoro-quinolones maximum residue limit, and dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) pesticide residue limit. The study focuses on the three most important seafood markets: the European Union’s 15 members, Japan, and North America.Our empirical results confirm the hypothesis and are robust to the OLS as well as alternative zero-accounting gravity models such as the Heckman estimation and the Poisson family regressions. For the choice of the best model specification to account for zero trade and heteroskedastic issues, it is inconclusive to base on formal statistical tests; however, the Heckman sample selection and zero-inflated negative binomial (ZINB) models provide the most reliable parameter estimates based on the statistical tests, magnitude of coefficients, economic implications, and the literature findings. Our findings suggest that continually tightening of seafood safety standards has had a negative impact on exporting countries. Increasing the stringency of regulations by reducing analytical limits or maximum residue limits in seafood in developed countries has negative impacts on their bilateral seafood imports. The chapter furthers the literature on food safety standards on international trade. We show competing gravity model specifications and provide additional evidence that no one gravity model is superior.

A similarity index of maximum residue level (MRL) regulations is introduced into a variable elasticity of substitution (VES) model to analyze the impacts of MRL regulation similarity on trade flows and social welfare. We specially consider the situation where the requirements set by the importing country are stricter than those of the exporting country. We find that the more similar the MRL regulation between trading partners is, the more substitutable their goods are, and for the consumers that have home preferences for domestic goods, they prefer the imported goods that are more similar to the domestic goods. Our results also show that if the developing countries upward harmonized their MRL standards to developed countries, their exports would expand.

Recent literature on firm-level heterogeneity and trade has emphasized a self-selection mechanism: only the most productive firms can recover the transaction (sunk) costs for serving foreign markets and become exporters. The role of trade integration is that a productivity gap between exporters and nonexporters becomes lower when the market becomes more integrated due to a fall in trade costs. The focus of this chapter is the role of EU harmonization of food regulations in explaining the intra-EU export-productivity premium. The food industry is an interesting case to examine because many directives and regulations of the Single Market Program concern this important economic sector and have the potential to affect trade and productivity. We use data on Dutch food processing firms for the 1979–2005 period, which we link with a dataset that codes food products subject to EU harmonization. The chapter confirms that more productive firms are more likely to enter the EU export market. The result of EU harmonization is that this probability increases. Second, we find a positive and significant export-productivity premium: that is, firms that export to other EU markets are more productive than nonexporting firms. This finding is robust to the estimation technique and the way we measured TFP growth. Third, when we test whether the export-productivity premium is affected by EU harmonization, we find weak evidence that is the case for Dutch food processing firms: much depends on the estimation method, the way we measure TFP growth, and the population of exporting firms.

Private standards are increasingly governing international food trade, but little is known about the implications for developing countries. The objective of the study is to provide evidence in the ongoing debate on standards as barrier or catalyst for developing countries’ export. We use the Peruvian fresh asparagus export sector as a case study and provide empirical panel data evidence on the effects of certification to private food standards on export volumes of firms. Our dataset on the transactions of 567 export firms from 1993 to 2011 allows us to take export dynamics and time trends into account, as well as to keep country and sector specific effects constant. In our empirical strategy, we first use simple OLS and ignore firm-specific unobservable effects and dynamic export patterns. We then account for export persistence, as well as company fixed effects and finally, use System-GMM estimators to address potential reversed causality issues. These approaches represent substantial methodological improvements compared with previous studies on the trade effects of private standards. The empirical innovation is crucial for accurate impact estimation, as results indicate that certification to standards has a positive effect on the export volumes of companies, but that the significant effect dwindles as soon as unobserved firm heterogeneity and export persistency are properly controlled for. Additional studies with large data availabilities are needed to further disentangle the effect and confirm the case study results.

This chapter investigates to what extent private and public European food safety standards affect European imports of a key high-value horticultural product such as green beans from Kenya. First, we estimate the ad valorem tariff equivalents of these nontariff measures (NTMs) for the main European importing countries using an extension of the price-wedge method. Second, we embed these estimated tariff equivalents into a gravity model. We find that the trade effects of these measures during the period 1990–2011 move from being positive in the beginning of the period to being increasingly negative from 1995 until 2003 and then tend to vanish at the end of the period as if Kenyan suppliers have progressively adjusted their trade to these NTMs. We also show that the establishment of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa and the East African Community stimulates that trade with European countries.

Maximum residue limits (MRLs) on pesticides and veterinary drugs in plant and animal products are established to promote food safety and animal and plant health. In practice, however, they are often accused of creating unnecessary trade barriers. The controversy is more prominent when a given MRL is stricter than the corresponding international standard developed by Codex. Using the score indices constructed by Li and Beghin (2012), we empirically assess the implications of stringency in MRLs in plant and animal products, relative to Codex levels, for Canadian and US trade performance. We find little evidence that US imports are influenced by domestic stringency or those imposed by its trading partners. However, US exports are negatively affected by stringency in destination markets. Canada’s stringent MRLs facilitate its exports of plant and animal products and these exports do not seem to be impeded by MRL stringency in destination markets. Canada’s imports do not appear to be systematically influenced by either its own or its trading partners’ MRL stringency. We draw implications for the potential harmonization of MRLs between the two countries.

The chapter contributes to on-going debates about the inclusion of smallholders in export value chains for high-value agricultural products. Specifically, it investigates the factors driving the procurement practices of exporter of fresh fruits and vegetables in sub-Saharan Africa, and specifically sourcing from smallholders. A survey is undertaken of exporters of fresh fruit and vegetables in sub-Saharan Africa. The resulting data are used to estimate econometrically the propensity of exporters to source from smallholders, and the intensity of sourcing among those exporters who do procure from smallholders. Explanatory variables include firm and market characteristics, supply chain costs, type of product, availability of alternative sources of supply, and judgments regarding the performance of smallholders and other sources of supply.The propensity to procure from smallholders is found to be negatively associated with being a small exporter and the performance of medium- and large-scale producers. Exporters are more likely to source from smallholders if they have their own production capacity and smallholders are judged to perform well. The requirement of customers to comply with private food safety standards is found to have no significant effect on the propensity to procure from smallholders. Conversely, compliance with private standards has a strong influence on the intensity of sourcing from smallholders. Exporters judging smallholders to perform well are more likely to source intensively from smallholders, but to source less if they judge their own production to perform well. High fixed costs tend to be associated with lower intensity of sourcing from smallholders. The results suggest that compliance with private food safety standards does not drive the exclusion of smallholders from export value chains; indeed, conversely, the requirement to comply with such standards is associated with greater intensity of sourcing from smallholders. Smallholders evidently play a key role in the defrayment of risk by exporters in that many exporters combine their own production with smallholder procurement. Costs of procurement from smallholders, however, remain an issue. Evidently, the fixed costs of smallholder supply chains increase appreciably with the intensity of sourcing. The research reported here provides a new perspective on the inclusion of smallholders in export value chains for horticultural products. The incorporation of smallholders into these value chains is seen as the outcome of the procurement decisions of exporters. Contrary to much of the discourse in this area, the results suggest that smallholders can and do compete in export value chains for horticultural products even in the context of exacting food safety standards.

We examine how third party certification with quality management standards and mutual recognition of certification through international agreements of accreditation bodies creates trust between trading partners and increases bilateral trade. We focus on the food, beverage, and tobacco industry and use augmented gravity models for the 2000–2008 period. Our results show that quality management certifications are positively correlated with bilateral trade. Certifications help to reduce information asymmetries and signal commitment to quality production processes. Moreover, our results show that mutual recognition of certification has a positive and significant effect on trade. Members of the mutual recognition agreement for quality management standards have higher bilateral trade flows than non-members. Mutual recognition is in particular beneficial for markets access in high-income countries. We conclude that technical cooperation programs for developing countries’ conformity assessment services might be effective means to increase trade performance of developing countries.

Cover of Nontariff Measures with Market Imperfections: Trade and Welfare Implications
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Frontiers of Economics and Globalization
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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