Sustainability Standards and Their Trade Implications


  • Deepali Fernandes University of Zurich Rämistrasse, 8001 Zürich Switzerland Author
  • Yongmin Bian University of Zurich Rämistrasse, 8001 Zürich Switzerland Author


Sustainability, Green Economy, Trade, Standards, WTO


Driven by market, consumer preferences and recent climate change discussions, the usage of ‘sustainability’ standards has over the last decade gained ground worldwide. Sustainability standards are largely voluntary, non-mandatory and an increasingly important component of the green economy. While on the one hand the usage of sustainability standards helps achieve several economic and environment objectives, on the other hand they can potentially act as barriers to trade in particular for small producers. This paper examines the potential trade and commercial aspects of sustainability standards in terms of their diversity, cost of incorporation and interaction with supply chains. It considers the compatibility of sustainability standards with the existing trade architecture of the World Trade Organization, drawing on relevant case law developments. Finally, it recommends the usage of international platforms such as the UNFSS and ITC Standards map, to enable prod-uct/service specific information sharing, conformity assessment and business networking.







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