23 juni 2005

Deregulation is good for the poor (The Flemish Beerdrinker)

It really is. And it is good for the really poor. Consider this. More than 95% of all internationally traded goods and the bulk of developing country exports are covered by one ore more health, safety or environmental requirements from rich developed countries. Each of those measures is a potential and real stumbling block in getting market access for poor countries. Less market access means less exports means more poverty. And with less market access and more poverty those developing countries have even less resources to even try to comply with those requirements, starting a vicious race to the bottom. Yes, but those regulations are necessary to protect our health and our environment you say? Maybe. But maybe not. Consider again this :

Otsuki et al. (2000) estimate that the implementation of a new aflatoxin standard in the European Union will have a very negative impact on African exports of cereals, dried fruits and nuts. On the basis of an econometric model, it is estimated that the EU standard, which would reduce health risks by approximately 1.4 deaths per billion a year, will decrease African exports of these products to the European Union by 64 per cent, or $670 million.

I don’t want to go into the question about how much money a life is worth, but this seems to me ridiculous. Besides, how many African lives will be lost because of the decrease in exports ? More than 1,4 per billion per year i guess. And this is just one example ! Some regulations really mean death, not here, but certainly elsewhere.

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