A Race to the Top? A Case Study of Food Safety Standards and African Exports

32 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2016

See all articles by Tsunehiro Otsuki

Tsunehiro Otsuki

World Bank

John S. Wilson

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG)

Mirvat Sewadeh

World Bank - World Bank Institute (WBI)

Date Written: February 2001

Abstract

Implementation of the European Union's new aflatoxin standards will reduce African exports to Europe of nuts, cereals, and dried fruits, products highly sensitive to the aflatoxin standards. The EU standards would reduce health risks by only about 1.4 deaths per billion a year but would cut African exports by 64 percent, or $670 million, compared with their level under international standards.

Growing concern over health risks associated with food products is at the forefront of trade policy debate. At the heart of this debate is the "precautionary principle," which holds that precautions should be taken against health, safety, and environmental risks even when science has not established direct cause-and-effect relationships - as with, for example, the European ban on hormone-treated beef.

Otsuki, Wilson, and Sewadeh quantify the impact on food exports from African countries of new EU standards for aflatoxins, structurally related toxic compounds that contaminate certain foods and lead to the production of acute liver carcinogens in the human body.

The authors estimate the impact of changes in differing levels of such protection based on the EU standards (and suggested by international standards) for 15 European countries and 9 African countries between 1989 and 1998.

The results suggest that implementation of the EU's new aflatoxin standards will significantly hurt African exports to Europe of nuts, cereals, and dried fruits, which are highly sensitive to the aflatoxin standards.

The EU standards would reduce health risks by only about 1.4 deaths per billion a year but would cut African exports by 64 percent, or $670 million, compared with their level under international standards.

This paper - a product of Trade, Development Research Group - is part of a larger effort in the group to study the trade impact of regulation and standards from a development perspective. Tsunehiro Otsuki may be contacted at totsuki@worldbank.org.

Suggested Citation

Otsuki, Tsunehiro and Wilson, John S. and Sewadeh, Mirvat, A Race to the Top? A Case Study of Food Safety Standards and African Exports (February 2001). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 2563. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=632630

Tsunehiro Otsuki (Contact Author)

World Bank ( email )

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

John S. Wilson

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

1818 H. Street, N.W.
MSN3-311
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Mirvat Sewadeh

World Bank - World Bank Institute (WBI)

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

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