World Trade Review

Review Article

Food standards and exports: evidence for China

AXEL MANGELSDORFa1, ALBERTO PORTUGAL-PEREZa2 and JOHN S. WILSONa3

a1 BAM Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing, Germany, and Technical University Berlin, Chair of Innovation Economics

a2 World Bank

a3 World Bank

Abstract

Using a new database on standards in China, we estimate the impact of voluntary and mandatory standards – either harmonized to international norms or purely domestic – on Chinese food exports. The dataset covers seven Chinese products over the period 1992–2008. We find that standards have a positive effect on China's export performance, as the benefits to standardization in terms of reducing potential information asymmetry and signaling enhance food safety, and quality in foreign markets seem to surpass compliance costs. Our estimation results show that the positive effect of Chinese standards is larger when they are harmonized to international measures. The results suggest that there are clear benefits to China's steps to base their domestic standards and regulations on international measures.