Fishing access agreements have been widely criticized but there is little quantitative evidence of their effects on the economies of developing countries. The aim of this paper is to investigate the influence of the European Union’s fishing access agreements on 15 African countries’ fish exports to the OECD. More specifically, we investigate the effects on the extensive and intensive margins of trade, i.e. the probability and volume of trade, when fishing access agreements that have previously been active become inactive.
Using the gravity model of trade and detailed data on exports of fishery products for the period 1992–2010 we show that trade with the OECD is negatively affected when EU fishing access agreements are inactive. Export volumes as well as the probability to trade with OECD countries are affected. We look at effects of mixed agreements (with many different species) as well as tuna agreements (tuna and tuna-like species) and find that mixed agreements affect both margins whereas tuna agreements only affect the intensive margin. We conclude that EU fishing access agreements could be a channel through which developing countries gain from trade but that the gains hinge on proper redistribution of benefits and proper management of resources.