Help or Hindrance? The Impact of Harmonised Standards on African Exports

Posted: 2 Nov 2009

See all articles by Witold Czubala

Witold Czubala

Bank of America

Ben Shepherd

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG); Groupe d'Economie Mondiale (GEM) - IEP Paris

John S. Wilson

World Bank

Date Written: November 2009

Abstract

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

Keywords: F13, F15

Suggested Citation

Czubala, Witold and Shepherd, Ben and Wilson, John S., Help or Hindrance? The Impact of Harmonised Standards on African Exports (November 2009). Journal of African Economies, Vol. 18, Issue 5, pp. 711-744, 2009, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1496689 or http://dx.doi.org/ejp003

Witold Czubala (Contact Author)

Bank of America ( email )

100 North Tryon Street
6th Floor
Charlotte, NC 28255
United States

Ben Shepherd

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG) ( email )

1818 H Street NW
MSN3-311
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Groupe d'Economie Mondiale (GEM) - IEP Paris ( email )

197 Boulevard Saint-Germain
Paris, 75007
France

HOME PAGE: http://gem.sciences-po.fr/

John S. Wilson

World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20433
United States

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