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Barriers to Fishery Exports from Developing Countries: The Impact of U.S. FDA Food Safety Regulation


  • Anders, Sven M.
  • Westra, Sabrina


The United States is the third largest consumer of seafood products in the world. The percentage of imported seafood consumed in the U.S. has steadily increased from 66% in 1999 to over 84% in 2009 (NOAA, 2012). Food safety, especially of imported foods and products from developing countries, has raised increasing concerns among American consumers and policy makers. Accordingly, the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) border inspection system is considered critical for ensuring the safety of domestic seafood consumers (Ababouch et al., 2000). However, the potential non-tariff barrier to trade posed by FDA regulations, especially for many developing country exporters have been frequently cited in the literature. This paper investigates trends and patterns in U.S. import detentions and refusals of seafood products between 2000 and 2010. Data from U.S. FDA import refusal report is used to uncover patterns of detainments and import refusals across major exporting countries, World Bank income classification and time. The analysis in this paper suggests that the FDA’s approach to food safety regulation for seafood at U.S. ports of entry does not follow random selection based inspections. Instead, a system of Import Alerts results in targeted inspections and mandatory “flagging” of repeat code violation. We find evidence of increasing levels of seafood shipment detentions without physical examinations targeted at predominantly lower-middle income seafood exporting countries which make up the majority of the U.S. seafood supply.

Suggested Citation

  • Anders, Sven M. & Westra, Sabrina, 2012. "Barriers to Fishery Exports from Developing Countries: The Impact of U.S. FDA Food Safety Regulation," 2012 Conference, August 18-24, 2012, Foz do Iguacu, Brazil 126912, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:iaae12:126912
    DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.126912

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Buzby, Jean C. & Regmi, Anita, 2009. "FDA Refusals of Food Imports by Exporting Country Group," Choices: The Magazine of Food, Farm, and Resource Issues, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 24(2), pages 1-5.
    2. Gale, H. Frederick, Jr. & Buzby, Jean C., 2009. "Imports From China and Food Safety Issues," Economic Information Bulletin 58620, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    3. Kathy Baylis & Andrea Martens & Lia Nogueira, 2009. "What Drives Import Refusals?," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1477-1483.
    4. Buzby, Jean C. & Unnevehr, Laurian J. & Roberts, Donna, 2008. "Food Safety and Imports: An Analysis of FDA Food-Related Import Refusal Reports," Economic Information Bulletin 58626, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
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    Cited by:

    1. Xiaowei Wen & Zhaohui Yang & Hui Dong & Xinqiang Fan & Yong Wang, 2018. "Barriers to Sustainable Food Trade: China’s Exports Food Rejected by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration 2011–2017," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 10(6), pages 1-12, May.

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    Food Consumption/Nutrition/Food Safety; International Development; Livestock Production/Industries;

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