Date and Time: Wednesday 4th December 2013 ~~~ 14:30 – 16:00
Location: Hibiscus Room
Theme: International Trade Governance and Sustainable Development



Session Objectives

• Contributing empirical evidence on how international standards and standardisation are linked to and supportive of global trade and sustainable development
• Clarifying how to practically work and support a global relevance in standards and to increase the involvement in development of standards by developing countries
• Analysing how standards should facilitate trade instead of constitute technical barriers to trade


Recently, the flows of investment and trade have increased hugely worldwide. There is no doubt that such development is greatly influenced by multilateral, regional and bilateral trade agreements. However, what is often forgotten is the important role international standardisation and standards have in the world of actual trading activities, which are mostly made up by transactions between companies agreeing to sell or buy certain products. Increasingly, buyers are demanding sellers/suppliers to follow a set of international standards in order to assure satisfactory quality management, or build good environmental footage, etc. Even if international standards are voluntary by nature, their implementation might become a key element in increasing exports, products being topped up with premium due to competitive niche, or simply not losing to a competitor following the standards the buyer prefers. If the ultimate aim is to increase trade, disregarding international standards is not an effective strategy. Instead, countries and companies need to increase their own influence in the setting of international standards to the best extent possible, as well as the capacity to implementing them.

Furthermore, it is a general trend not only in developed economies where consumers are increasingly demanding for goods and services that are being produced/supplied in an environmentally-friendly, or economically-efficient manner, due to increasing awareness of the need to save whatever remains of the world for next generations. Citizens in developing and least-developed economies are also getting concerned about how their countries’ scarce resources are, or aren’t, being utilised in effective and sustainable ways. There is thus a need to get such views of the civil society feature more strongly in the international standardisation process, and their concerns addressed in the standards themselves. Strengthening diverse stakeholders’ viewpoints in a traditionally industry-driven process (that set the rules for production and trade) should contribute to sustainable development.