Divergence in Non-Tariff Measures and the Quality of Traded Products
Non-tariff measures (NTMs) constitute a grey area where trade policy meets public policy goals. NTMs comprise a diverse set of regulatory policy measures, including testing and certification, rather than traditional international trade policy measures such as tariffs or tariff-rate quotas. Regulatory NTMs protect plants, animals, humans, and consumers from imported harmful products containing diseases; regulate the use of hazardous substances in production; ensure conformity with common standards; and protect the environment. Trade literature has focused on the impact of NTMs on trade flows, whereas few studies address the potential welfare-improving effects of these measures. This paper fills this gap by examining the relationship between NTM applications and the quality of traded products. Two questions are addressed. First, do more or additional burdens of NTMs in the foreign market incur a higher quality of exported products? Second, is the quality impact of NTMs in different sectors different between food and other manufacturing goods? We adopt a recently developed indicator to capture the additional requirements for exporters stemming from importers’ imposition of NTMs, and a quality estimator that controls for price. Our empirical results indicate that, overall, divergence in sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures between the two trading partners reduces the quality of traded goods. Furthermore, while the divergence in SPS measures reduces the quality of traded goods in the manufacturing sector, the divergence in technical barriers to trade shows no statistically significant impact on the quality of traded goods between the two trading partners. The results imply that additional costs from technical barriers to trade are negligible compared with those from SPS measures in the manufacturing sector.