Assessment of comparative advantage in aquaculture: framework and application on selected species in developing countries

  • 01/12/2009
  • FAO

International trade in fishery products has increased, together with the absolute and relative importance of aquaculture, as a source of fish production. Shrimp and salmon are two examples of species grown in developing countries that are traded internationally. How successful a country is in competing against other producers depends in part on transport and on satisfying food standards, but also on its costs of production. Comparative advantage is a means of comparing relative costs and indicating the species and markets where there is the greatest likelihood of success. There are problems with estimating comparative advantage: the method can be static rather than dynamic and may not indicate long-run opportunities. However, it is a useful tool for planners who devise aquaculture strategies and for individual fish farmers. This paper illustrates the concept of comparative advantage and some of its policy implications by presenting two case studies: the first one focuses on shrimp exporting countries while the second one is based on freshwater aquaculture production of carp, catfish and tilapia.