Food Safety Standards and Seafood Exports from Morocco - Catalyst or Barrier?
Abstract: Increased global trade in high-value food products presents new possibilities to developing countries to increase export revenues from agro-food trade. Yet, it also poses new challenges upon these countries to comply with prevailing food safety standards on industrial markets. Increased wealth in industrial countries and a number of severe food safety scandals have jointly contributed to an increasing number and sharpening of such standards; a trend further spurred by the emergence of private food safety standards. Complying with standards often requires big investments, technological skills and a well-functioning institutional framework, which may constitute an obstacle to developing countries’ participation in international agro-food trade. Nevertheless, the pressure on developing countries to deliver safe and good quality products may also work as a catalyst to modernization that in the end is beneficial to exports. Developing countries may respond differently though to standards with exit, voice and compliance being the main options to consider; where compliance can be the result of either a proactive or reactive approach. This paper deals with the impact of food safety standards on Moroccan seafood exports, where it turns out that both the public administration and the seafood export sector early on adopted a proactive compliance strategy that has proved successful for Moroccan seafood exports. Morocco thus constitutes a good example of a developing country where food safety standards have had a positive catalyst effect on the modernization of the seafood sector and contributed to an overall increase of seafood exports.
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