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Export Competitiveness: Standards and Certification


In the past few decades, changes in the patterns of global trade flows have enhanced the role of quality and standards in economic development. Increasingly developing countries, particularly those constrained by small internal markets and purchasing capabilities, are adopting export-led growth strategies oriented to diversify into manufacturing and higher-value agro-food exports, and integrating their producers into global production networks. Poor investment climate, trade protectionism, and small markets hamper that development, but an even bigger obstacle is the lack of the capacity to use and adopt standards, quality requirements, and technology to access global markets.


Action Plans For Capacity Building

  • Tanzania’s Agro-Food Trade and Emerging SPS Standards: Toward a Strategic Approach and Action PlanSteven Jaffee, Spencer Henson, Mirvat Sewadeh, Patricia Pentney, Flora Musonda, Tanzania   Diagnostic Trade Integration Study, World Bank
    Tanzania   successfully responded to the challenges posed by the EU ban on its fish and fishery products during the late 1990s, and Tanzanian producers and exporters are beginning to adopt and benefit from higher international food safety and quality standards.

  • Uganda, Standards and Trade: Experience, Capacities, and Priorities (Part aPart b) Steven Jaffee, Tom Deeb, Tim O’brien, Yolanda Strachan, Rose Kiggundu, Diagnostic Trade Integration Study, World Bank
    Uganda   successfully responded to the challenges posed by the EU ban on its fish and fishery products during the late 1990s. In selected other areas, Ugandan producers and exporters are also beginning to adopt and benefit from higher international food safety and quality standards.

  • Vietnam Food Safety and Agricultural Health Action Plan, East Asia and Pacific Region and Agriculture and Rural Development Department, World Bank
    With rapidly growing exports in high-value commodities, Vietnam is taking efforts to address the sanitary and phytosanitary problems, and these efforts would reduce major losses to the national economy and contribute to rural poverty reduction.

  • Standards & SPS Capacity within Zambia and Their Impact on Trade
    This report identifies where SPS and standards issues were currently constraining trade and then recommend areas where further in-depth work was required. 

  • A Survey of Government Agencies on Agro-food Standards-Related Capacity NeedsUnited Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)
    The survey was based on the UNIDO survey of firms and was modified to help practitioners assess standards-related needs at the government level.




Case Studies

  • Public Private Partnership - Thailand, Sompop Manarungsan, Jocelyn O. Naewbanij, Tanapat Rerngjakrabhet, Agriculture and Rural Development Discussion Paper, World Bank
    This study surveys the sanitary, phytosanitary, and other market requirements of the major markets for Thai shrimp, fresh asparagus, and frozen green soybean exports and the compliance of the Thai exporters.

  • Impact of Standards on Cost - MoroccoOmar Aloui,Lahcen Kenny, Agriculture and Rural Development Discussion Paper, World Bank
    The harmonization of sanitary standards and the adoption of uniform procedures for certification system would contribute to the reduction in compliance costs. The Moroccan public and private sectors could provide more assistance with farmers’ technical requirements, and should be more involved with certification and the auditing process, and laboratory analysis.

  • Cost-Benefit of Compliance - SenegalAhmadou Aly Mbaye, Agriculture and Rural Development Discussion Paper, World Bank
    This study assesses the level of SPS management capacity in the groundnut (peanut) subsector in Senegal. The author performed a cost/benefit analysis and found that the present value of the net benefit of production that meets standards is CFAF 138 billion for SONACOS’s groundnut cake and CFAF 92 billion for edible groundnuts.

  • Private Sector-Lead Change - KenyaKenya   Diagnostic Trade and Integration Study, World Bank
    he success story of Kenya ’s fresh produce industry, and to a lesser extent the response to the challenges posed to Kenya’s exports of fish by food safety standards in international markets, illustrate how adopting food safety and agricultural health standards can serve as a catalyst for trade and an opportunity to redefine the industry’s comparative advantage.

  • The Role of Pro-Active Government - NicaraguaJames C. Cato, W. Steven Otwel, Agnés Saborío Coze, Agriculture and Rural Development Discussion Paper, World Bank
    The Nicaraguan government agency for food safety and quality was recognized as the competent authority in promoting adapted to international food safety and quality standards, and the Nicaragua shrimp subsector successfully expanded exports to the European Union (EU), Japan, and the United States (US).

  • Donor Support for SPS Capacity Building: Taking Stock and Drawing LessonsMirvat Sewadeh, Vicente Ferrer, World Bank
    The review of donors projects shows that SPS capacity building efforts should preempt trade disruptions by carrying out “preventative” capacity building that focuses on sectors with high risk. Another key lesson is that SPS capacity building should generally address the capacities of both the public and the private sector.


Policy Publications 



Standards Policy Note

Source: the World Bank


This short note aims to briefly discuss the issue of standards as a factor contributing to developing country competitiveness and shed light on some of the key issues that are often brought up in this context.



Quality Systems and Standards for a Competitive Edge

Author: J. Luis Guasch, Jean-Louis Racine, Isabel Sánchez, Makhtar Diop

Source : the World Bank, 2007


This book provides empirical evidence and guidelines for reform, and describes and evaluates the performance of a number of Latin American countries with respect to various components of the national quality system. The case studies on Mexico and Turkey   illustrate the methodology of analysis for making a diagnosis and appropriate recommendations.



Standards, Regulations, and Institutions.

Author: Spencer Henson


This is a brief review about standard system, which include three components: regulations, rules and standards; institutions; technical, administrative and financial capacities.


Standards: Economic Principles

Author: J. Christophe Bureau

This is a review about economics and political economy of standards, and the role of standards in the process of market integration, trade and economic development. 


Agro-food Standards Background Note

Author: Steven Jaffee and Mirvat Sewadeh

Source: World Bank


The future trajectory of food safety, agricultural health, environmental and social standards will be driven by a complex of socio-economic, demographic, political and technical factors. Developing country suppliers need to closely track these developments and reflect them in their own commercial strategies and production practices.





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