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Given the ambiguity of the overall welfare effects of non-tariff measures (NTMs), this paper furthers our understanding of the well-being of consumers by focusing on a single sector analysis. It examines the welfare effects associated with the highly regulated food processing sector in Malaysia. A comparative static computable general equilibrium model is employed to quantify the welfare impacts of a partial removal of NTMs, or a reduction in trade restrictiveness of NTMs. The simulation results indicate welfare gains, albeit minimal (not more than 2%), from a partial reduction in NTMs, both in the short run and long run. A plausible reason for the somewhat small gains in welfare in the food sector is the dominance of standard-like measures relative to price or quantity-based regulations. The positive and small welfare effects from a partial removal of NTMs suggest that some regulations in the food processing sector may be pervasive in that they may embed some protectionist elements and/or they do not address genuine market failures. Therefore, this paper concludes that there is still scope for regulatory reform in the food processing sector in Malaysia.
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