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Abstract

The September 11th event focused the world’s attention on the threat of bioterrorism on the food chain. As a consequence, the USA implemented the Bioterrorism Act (BTA) containing new import requirements that can be classified as non-tariff barriers (NTBs). This paper analyses these NTBs by performing an assessment of WTO conformity and trade impact: hereby general problems in the analysis of bioterrorist risks are explored as for this new and unknown threat explicit WTO rules are still missing. Additionally, in exploring the BTA relevant process standard rules laid out by the WTO, the analysis indicates the extensive flexibility provided in this framework. This leads to larger scope for national polices on process standards compared to product standards (e.g. residua levels). The empirical trade flow analysis illustrates differences in the compliance costs between countries. This differentiation can be caused by learning costs that may differ among countries. The analysis highlights that perishable products and countries with small import quantities are mostly affected.

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