The trade impact of voluntary sustainability standards: a review of empirical evidence

Synthesis paper
Research report

Published August 2020 by United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). Authored by Elamin, N.E.A. and de Cordoba, S.F.

Summary

The expansion of Voluntary Sustainability Standards (VSS) has introduced tools to address key sustainability challenges and expand trade as well as new complexity in trade policy dialogues. Although VSS are voluntary, they have become a market reality and non-compliance can lead to the exclusion of producers from Global Value Chains (GVCs). Although the literature has adequately addressed the theoretical trade impact of VSS, there is a worrying lack of empirical analysis in this field. The current research is to our knowledge the first to survey the empirical literature on the trade impact of VSS. Surprisingly we only found a limited number of empirical studies (nine studies) in this field. On the one hand, the reviewed studies give contradictory results, but in addition, are few in number and case-specific that focus on very few standards and products. This paper aims to draw the attention of researchers towards the lack of evidence in this area. Given that the gap in the literature can partly be explained by data access, we also present some of the publicly available

Research detail

The trade impact of voluntary sustainability standards: a review of empirical evidence

Synthesis paper
Research report

Published August 2020 by United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). Authored by Elamin, N.E.A. and de Cordoba, S.F.

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