The agri-food competitive performance in the EU countries: a fifteen years retrospective
The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the competitive performance of different European countries at sector level in the intra-EU market from 1995 to 2011, comparing food industry and agricultural sector. In particular, we aim to assess the effect of the EU enlargement (first period) and the economic crisis (second period) on the competitiveness of EU countries. The data come from the Eurostat database of international trade. The competitive performance of EU countries is measured through several trade indices, such as Export and Import Market Share, Revealed Comparative Advantage, Net Export Index, and Vollrath indices, analysing their values over the last fifteen years. Our analysis showed that, in the EU countries, agriculture and food industry do not reveal strong differences in competitive performance during the last fifteen years. Among big countries, France and Spain showed a continuous worsening competitive performance. A similar trend is found for Belgium. On the contrary, the Netherlands revealed the best performance, both in agriculture and in food industry, together with Italy. Nevertheless, the Netherlands has lightly lost specialisation because of a rise of total exports that have affected the value of RCA. Italy is characterised by a smaller increase, especially in the food sector. The only country showing a significant difference in competitive trends between agriculture and food industry is Germany. It became leader in the food industry of EU, with a growing performance over the period analysed, while it is not competitive nor specialised in agriculture. Among small countries, it is worth to highlight the performance of Austria.
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