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Quality Measures in Food Trade: The Indian Experience


  • Aparna Sawhney


World trade in food has expanded significantly over the years and traditional tariff barriers have reduced with increasing commitments under the WTO. The industrialised countries potentially offer higher returns to food exporters from developing countries, but also pose a greater challenge in market access through stringent safety and quality standards. This paper analyses how this has impacted the Indian marine export industry, and the industry response to this challenge. The large firms are upgrading to signal quality in the OECD markets, while the small firms remain below the quality mark and are catering to other developing country markets where standards are not as stringent. Quality certification has thus become the basis of product differentiation and affected the pattern of trade. On the institutional front, a significant positive change is evident, with the Indian government taking measures to raise safety standards in the domestic food processing sector and increasing the credibility of its export certification agency abroad. There are also cooperative initiatives to improve testing facilities and promote equivalence of certification with OECD countries. The two‐pronged approach of investment in upgrading the food processing industry and promoting international partnership in certification with destination markets offers a good model to address the continuous quality challenge facing other food exporting developing countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Aparna Sawhney, 2005. "Quality Measures in Food Trade: The Indian Experience," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 28(3), pages 329-348, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:worlde:v:28:y:2005:i:3:p:329-348
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9701.2005.00670.x

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    Cited by:

    1. Marcel Fafchamps & Ruth Vargas Hill & Bart Minten, 2008. "Quality control in nonstaple food markets: evidence from India," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 38(3), pages 251-266, May.

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