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Help or Hindrance? The Impact of Harmonised Standards on African Exports †

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  • Witold Czubala
  • Ben Shepherd
  • John S. Wilson

Abstract

We test the hypothesis that product standards harmonised to de facto international standards are less trade restrictive than ones that are not. To do this, we construct a new database of European Union (EU) product standards. We identify standards that are aligned with International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) standards (as a proxy for de facto international norms). We use a sample-selection gravity model to examine the impact of EU standards on African textiles and clothing exports, a sector of particular development interest. We find robust evidence that non-harmonised standards reduce African exports of these products. EU standards which are harmonised to ISO standards are less trade restricting. Our results suggest that efforts to promote African exports of manufactures may need to be complemented by measures to reduce the cost impacts of product standards, including international harmonisation. In addition, efforts to harmonise national standards with international norms, including those through the World Trade Organisation Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement, promise concrete benefits through trade expansion. Copyright 2009 The author 2009. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Centre for the Study of African Economies. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oxfordjournals.org, Oxford University Press.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE) in its journal Journal of African Economies.

Volume (Year): 18 (2009)
Issue (Month): 5 (November)
Pages: 711-744

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Handle: RePEc:oup:jafrec:v:18:y:2009:i:5:p:711-744

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  1. Brenton, Paul & Hoppe, Mombert, 2007. "Clothing and export diversification : still a route to growth for low-income countries ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4343, The World Bank.
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  13. Heckman, James J, 1979. "Sample Selection Bias as a Specification Error," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(1), pages 153-61, January.
  14. Bruno Henry de Frahan & Mark Vancauteren, 2006. "Harmonisation of food regulations and trade in the Single Market: evidence from disaggregated data," European Review of Agricultural Economics, Foundation for the European Review of Agricultural Economics, vol. 33(3), pages 337-360, September.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Olivier CADOT & Anne-Cécilia DISDIER & Lionel FONTAGNÉ, 2012. "North-South Standards Harmonization and International Trade," Working Papers P42, FERDI.
  2. Chen, Natalie & Novy, Dennis, 2012. "On the Measurement of Trade Costs: Direct vs. Indirect Approaches to Quantifying Standards and Technical Regulations," CEPR Discussion Papers 8883, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. repec:hal:psewpa:hal-00961733 is not listed on IDEAS
  4. Shepherd, Ben & Wilson, Norbert L.W., 2013. "Product standards and developing country agricultural exports: The case of the European Union," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 1-10.

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