Assessing the impact of sanitary, phytosanitary and technical requirements on food and agricultural trade: what does current research tell us?

Lead author: Sofia Boza       Year: 2013      

ISO R&I Team Summary

This paper reviews empirical studies that have investigated how SPS/TBT measures impact trade in the food and agricultural sector. The author concludes that research supports the existence of a 'dual effect' of SPS-TBT measures on international trade of food and agricultural products, with can bring additional costs but also a potentially better positioning in the market. Most studies showed that increasing stringecy in SPS/TBT did negatively impact agricultural trade, in some cases even more so for developing countries, but there were also cases where effects were positive or varied. In those cases, as customer trust increased, trade increased. Another conclusion drawn from the studies was that in more cases homogenization of regulations and standards positively impacted trade flows.

Publication Abstract

In last decades, international trade has been characterized worldwide by a significant opening up, mainly based on the reduction of tariffs. However, simultaneously there has been an increase in non tariff measures (NTMs) notified to the WTO. Within this category they are technical barriers to trade (TBT) and sanitary and phytosanitary measures (SPS). The increasing importance of these requirements highlights the need to attend to the effects that SPS/TBT measures have on the flow of imports and exports. In order to address this matter, a literature review was made to consider the latest research in the field specifically in the case of food and agricultural sector. Finally, as an overall result the existence of a “dual” effect was shown regarding the relationship between SPS/TBT and food and agricultural international trade which depends on the trade-off between implementation costs and the benefits of a better positioning in an gradually more demanding market.

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  • Publication type:

    • Institutional publication
  • Other authors:

    • Sofia Boza