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Help or hindrance ? the impact of harmonized standards on african exports


  • Czubala, Witold
  • Shepherd, Ben
  • Wilson, John S.


The authors test the hypothesis that product standards harmonized to de facto international standards are less trade restrictive than ones that are not. To do this, the authors construct a new database of European Union (EU) product standards. The authors identify standards that are aligned with ISO standards (as a proxy for de facto international norms). The authors 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. The authors find robust evidence that non-harmonized standards reduce African exports of these products. EU standards which are harmonized 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 harmonization. In addition, efforts to harmonize national standards with international norms, including through the World Trade Organization Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement, promise concrete benefits through trade expansion.

Suggested Citation

  • Czubala, Witold & Shepherd, Ben & Wilson, John S., 2007. "Help or hindrance ? the impact of harmonized standards on african exports," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4400, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:4400

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Clougherty, Joseph A. & Grajek, Michał, 2014. "International standards and international trade: Empirical evidence from ISO 9000 diffusion," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 70-82.
    2. Bo Xiong & John Beghin, 2017. "Disentangling Demand-Enhancing And Trade-Cost Effects Of Maximum Residue Regulations," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: Nontariff Measures and International Trade, chapter 6, pages 105-108 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    3. Ingo Borchert & Batshur Gootiiz & Aaditya Mattoo, 2014. "Policy Barriers to International Trade in Services: Evidence from a New Database," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 28(1), pages 162-188.
    4. Reyes, Jose-Daniel, 2011. "International harmonization of product standards and firm heterogeneity in international trade," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5677, The World Bank.
    5. Chen, Natalie & Novy, Dennis, 2012. "On the measurement of trade costs: direct vs. indirect approaches to quantifying standards and technical regulations," World Trade Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 11(03), pages 401-414, July.
    6. Portugal-Perez, Alberto & Wilson, John S., 2009. "Why trade facilitation matters to Africa," World Trade Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 8(03), pages 379-416, July.
    7. Wilson, Norbert L.W. & Bray, Victoria, 2010. "It Happened All at Once: Switching Regressions, Gravity Models and Food Safety," 2010 Annual Meeting, July 25-27, 2010, Denver, Colorado 61825, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    8. Bo Xiong & John C. Beghin, 2017. "Stringent Maximum Residue Limits, Protectionism, and Competitiveness: The Cases of the US and Canada," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: Nontariff Measures and International Trade, chapter 12, pages 193-207 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    9. Frank van Tongeren & John Beghin & Stéphane Marette, 2009. "A Cost-Benefit Framework for the Assessment of Non-Tariff Measures in Agro-Food Trade," OECD Food, Agriculture and Fisheries Papers 21, OECD Publishing.
    10. Chauffour, Jean-Pierre & Maur, Jean-Christophe, 2010. "Beyond market access : the new normal of preferential trade agreements," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5454, The World Bank.
    11. Mangelsdorf, Axel & Portugal-Perez, Alberto & Wilson, John S., 2012. "Food standards and exports: evidence for China," World Trade Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 11(03), pages 507-526, July.
    12. Xiong, Bo & Beghin, John C., 2011. "Disentangling the Demand-enhancing Effect and Trade-cost Effect of Technical Measures in Agricultural Trade among OECD countries," Proceedings Issues, 2011: Agricultural Price Volatility, Trade Policy and Food Security in Developing Countries, December 2011, St. Petersburg, FL 116898, International Agricultural Trade Research Consortium.
    13. Honda, Keiichiro, 2012. "The effect of EU environmental regulation on international trade : restriction of hazardous substance as a trade barrier," IDE Discussion Papers 341, Institute of Developing Economies, Japan External Trade Organization(JETRO).

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