Trade barriers or trade facilitators? The heterogeneous impact of food standards in international trade


Recent research shows that the effect of food standards can be heterogeneous across sectors or countries: they sometimes act as barriers to trade, but in other cases may lead to increased trade. Hege Medin presents empirical evidence on Norwegian seafood exports showing that foreign food standards, measured by sanitary and phytosanitary notifications to the WTO, generally have a negative impact on total exports, the number of exporters and their average exports. However, for fresh seafood, there is a positive counteracting effect. Medin presents a theoretical explanation for this, suggesting that food standards reduce consumer uncertainty about quality and safety and therefore increase demand.