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Challenges and Opportunities Associated with International Agro-Food Standards

This World Bank research program, supported in part by a BNPP Trust Fund, was launched in 2002 and culminated in a recently released report (pdf - 632k). The objective of the research program has been to improve the understanding of the development community regarding the challenges and opportunities for developing country trade associated with rising international food safety and agricultural health standards. More specifically, the work has sought to:

  • Highlight the major dynamics in SPS standards in selected industrialized countries, covering both public and private standards and the drivers behind the observed trends;
  • Explore the ‘room for maneuver’ for developing country suppliers in the context of evolving regulatory (and commercial) changes and consider the range, appropriateness and effectiveness of alternative strategic responses; 
  • Develop a better understanding of the nature and level of costs and benefits associated with developing country (supplier) compliance with international/external market standards;
  • Develop a better understanding of the distributional impact of emerging standards and compliance strategies;
  • Review the scope and nature of recent programs by international development agencies to provide technical assistance in this field, and draw operational lessons from this experience; and
  • Draw out operational implications from country and program experiences to identify entry points and operational principles to guide further World Bank work in this field.

The research program employs a case study method to examine standards in an array of different product categories, skill types, equipment, and management systems needed to comply with these standards, costs of implementation, and strategies for obtaining and maintaining compliance through both public and private sector actions. Major components are:

  • country case studies focusing on key commodities for which standards present a significant challenge to market access and competitiveness
  • surveys of major industrialized country buyers/distributors (with a focus on fish and horticulture buyers in US, EU and Japan)
  • a desk review of development agency programs and projects in capacity building in this field.

Concept Documents:


Food Safety and Agricultural Health Standards: Challenges and Opportunities for Developing Country Exports (pdf - 632k)

Case study reports:
Developing Countries

Africa (AFR)

East Asia and the Pacific (EAP)

Latin America and Caribbean (LCR)

Middle East and North Africa (MENA)

South Asia (SAR)

Industrialized Country Buyer Survey


Other Publications


Contact Information

For additional information please contact:

Last updated on Oct 23, 2008

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