Trade impact of maximum residue limits in fresh fruits and vegetables

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Interfering maximum residue limits (MRLs) for pesticides with agricultural trade is becoming important for food and trade policies in the early 21st century. Differing levels for pesticide residues among countries have the potential to disrupt trade significantly. We employ a non-linear and disaggregated stringency index to quantify the degree of regulatory heterogeneity levels for pesticides between trading nations for fruits and vegetables in 2013 and 2014 and investigate the trade-restricting nature of this measure using the structural gravity framework. Our findings indicate that stricter importer MRLs reduce bilateral trade to the tune of 8.8%. Looking closer at MRLs with US partners, the effect of stricter MRLs is quite elastic concerning its impact on the US -EU trade. In particular, the estimates imply that a more stringent MRL's policy decreases the US export of fruits and vegetables to the EU members by a striking 13.8%. At the disaggregated level of MRL indices over different classes of chemicals, the results indicate that there is a significant gap in regulations regarding MRLs among several major US foreign markets for fruits and vegetables, particularly in the EU and the Trans-Pacific trading partners.

Fruits and vegetables trade, Bilateral trade, Non-tariff measures, Maximum residue limits, Intensive and extensive margins of trade