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Several aid agencies and government efforts tried (and largely failed) to upgrade the fishing industry in Uganda. That is, until the European Union cut off all Ugandan fish imports in 1997 due to failings in sanitary and phytosanitary standards (SPS). The Ugandan fishing industry has modernized and now meets the EU's demanding standards. Exports rose to $88 million in 2002, from $39 million before the EU ban.

The importance of the fish sector to Uganda’s economy created a sense of urgency to support fisheries’ compliance with the EU-imposed SPS conditions. The response to the export crisis was a spontaneous, fire-fighting process. The government, the private sector, and international development agencies worked relentlessly to facilitate compliance with the European Union, but not necessarily to upgrade the technology support system, as they did not set out either to achieve or deny technological change. But the very process of complying with EU standards facilitated some technological change.

This vignette comes from a recent World Bank book, Technology, Adaptation and Exports: How some developing countries got it right. The other excellent case studies come from India, Taiwan, Malaysia, Chile and Kenya.

Related - a previous post on the mistakes of export promotion agencies.

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