Understanding the costs of quarantine

Over the past two days I attended and spoke at the Quarantine and Market Access conference organized in Canberra by the Quarantine and Export Advisory Committee to the Australian Minister for Agriculture.

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You can “download”:http://www.petergallagher.com.au/assets/QEACConfPWG_web.pdf a PDF version of my presentation (about 600kb) by clicking the image. My argument will be familiar to readers of this site: we sorely need to bring some economic judgments to our decisions on the implementation of quarantine barriers. These are now the only non-tariff barriers used in Australian goods trade and the only policy barriers that are implemented without regard to the costs that they impose on our economy. Although our quarantine barriers probably have scientific merit and probably offer significant benefits, at least to the affected industry, they have the same economic impacts as other trade barriers. They raise costs in rural production (an area of considerable comparative advantage for Australia) and tend to cut our overall economic growth. A respsonsible decision-making process on quarantine would take these costs, as well as the benefits, into account.

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