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This paper examines food safety compliance by processed food exporters from developing countries through an analysis of the US import refusals during 2003–2018. The import refusals reveal that developing countries’ performance in complying with US food safety standards was far lower than that of developed countries, but their capability to meet food safety standards seems to have improved over time. Exporting countries’ economic development, export experience, and foreign direct investment play an important role in improving their compliance ability. Demand for trade protection from producers in the US has an impact on the stringency of monitoring food safety compliance.