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The cost of compliance with product standards for firms in developing countries: an econometric study

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  • Maskus, Keith E.
  • Otsuki, Tsunehiro
  • Wilson, John S.

Abstract

Standards and technical regulations exist to protect consumer safety or to achieve other goals, such as ensuring the interoperability of telecommunications systems, for example. Standards and technical regulations can, however, raise substantially both start-up and production costs for firms. Maskus, Otsuki, and Wilson develop econometric models to provide the first estimates of the incremental production costs for firms in developing nations in conforming to standards imposed by major importing countries. They use firm-level data generated from 16 developing countries in the World Bank Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Survey Database. Their findings indicate that standards do increase short-run production costs by requiring additional inputs of labor and capital. A 1 percent increase in investment to meet compliance costs in importing countries raises variable production costs by between 0.06 and 0.13 percent, a statistically significant increase. The authors also find that the fixed costs of compliance are nontrivial-approximately $425,000 per firm, or about 4.7 percent of value added on average. The results may be interpreted as one indication of the extent to which standards and technical regulations might constitute barriers to trade. While the relative impact on costs of compliance is relatively small, these costs can be decisive factors driving export success for companies. In this context, there is scope for considering that the costs associated with more limited exports to countries with import regulations may not conform to World Trade Organization rules encouraging harmonization of regulations to international standards, for example. Policy solutions then might be sought by identifying the extent to which subsidies or public support programs are needed to offset the cost disadvantage that arises from nonharmonized technical regulations.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 3590.

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Date of creation: 01 May 2005
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:3590

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Keywords: Environmental Economics&Policies; Economic Theory&Research; Health Economics&Finance; Administrative&Regulatory Law; Science Education;

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References

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  1. Otsuki, Tsunehiro & Wilson, John S. & Sewadeh, Mirvat, 2001. "Saving two in a billion: : quantifying the trade effect of European food safety standards on African exports," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 26(5), pages 495-514, October.
  2. Andrew B. Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen, 1998. "Understanding Increasing and Decreasing Wage Inequality," NBER Working Papers 6571, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Gasiorek, Michael & Smith, Alasdair & Venables, Anthony J., 1992. "`1992': Trade and Welfare; A General Equilibrium Model," CEPR Discussion Papers 672, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. James Harrigan, 1996. "Technology, Factor Supplies and International Specialization: Estimating the Neoclassical Model," NBER Working Papers 5722, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Wilson, John S. & Tsunehiro Otsuki, 2002. "To spray or not to spray? - pesticides, banana exports, and food safety," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2805, The World Bank.
  6. Morrison, Catherine J, 1988. "Quasi-Fixed Inputs in U.S. and Japanese Manufacturing: A Generalized Leontief Restricted Cost Function Approach," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 70(2), pages 275-87, May.
  7. Berndt, Ernst R & Wood, David O, 1975. "Technology, Prices, and the Derived Demand for Energy," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 57(3), pages 259-68, August.
  8. Berndt, Ernst R. & Hesse, Dieter M., 1986. "Measuring and assessing capacity utilization in the manufacturing sectors of nine oecd countries," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 961-989, October.
  9. Maskus, Keith E. & Wilson, John S. & Tsunehiro Otsuki, 2000. "Quantifying the impact of technical barriers to trade : a framework for analysis," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2512, The World Bank.
  10. Swann, Peter & Temple, Paul & Shurmer, Mark, 1996. "Standards and Trade Performance: The UK Experience," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(438), pages 1297-1313, September.
  11. Fischer, Ronald & Serra, Pablo, 2000. "Standards and protection," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 377-400, December.
  12. Jones, Philip & Hudson, John, 1996. "Standardization and the costs of assessing quality," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 355-361, September.
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