Quantitative restrictions to trade are declining, but in parallel sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures are increasingly being applied to impede agro-food trade. There is evidence that developing countries experience problems in meeting SPS measures. The objective of this paper is to determine whether Mauritius is facing barriers pertaining to SPS issues when exporting fishery products to the European Union. We first provide an overview of fishery exports from Mauritius before reviewing EU SPS requirements governing fishery exports. We then assess whether there are problems in meeting EU SPS requirements. We adopt a mixed methods approach which hinges on a documentary analysis of the impacts of SPS measures on developing country agro-food exports, an inventory analysis of Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) mission reports to developing countries exporting fishery products and of Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed notifications pertaining to fishery exports. These methods were complemented with interviews with key informants along the fish export supply chain. Our main finding is that SPS measures have not acted as a major barrier for Mauritian fishery exports to the European market. Nevertheless, the Mauritian institutional strategy for compliance to EU SPS measures has predominantly been reactive. In light of recent inspections of the FVO to assess compliance both at the level of the local competent authority and the exporters and the increasing importance of food safety as a competitive determinant of agro-food trade, we argue that Mauritius should not only adopt a reactive but increasingly a proactive stance to secure its market, to tap emerging ones and also to safeguard its image as a safe fish exporter.
Key words: Fish export, food safety, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, strategic options.
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