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Importing products, exporting standards? : examining how the European Union diffuses sustainable process and production methods through trade restriction

Möller, Ina Maria LU (2014) In Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science MESM01 20141
LUCSUS (Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies)
Abstract
The production and consumption of material goods, and the expansion of globalised trade have led to an increased outsourcing of resource depletion and pollution by post-industrialised countries. Although governments with sustainability policies may have improved standards in process and production methods (PPMs) within their own territories, the consumption of imported goods continues to have negative social and environmental impacts in the countries of origin.

Consumers (as well as producers) should assume responsibility for these negative impacts of their consumption. I examine the European Union (EU) as a major global consumer and its efforts to address its responsibilities by using trade barriers to enforce higher PPM standards... (More)
The production and consumption of material goods, and the expansion of globalised trade have led to an increased outsourcing of resource depletion and pollution by post-industrialised countries. Although governments with sustainability policies may have improved standards in process and production methods (PPMs) within their own territories, the consumption of imported goods continues to have negative social and environmental impacts in the countries of origin.

Consumers (as well as producers) should assume responsibility for these negative impacts of their consumption. I examine the European Union (EU) as a major global consumer and its efforts to address its responsibilities by using trade barriers to enforce higher PPM standards abroad. I use the theoretical concepts of Normative Power Europe (NPE) and Market Power Europe (MPE) to analyse the role of EU norms in addressing PPM standards through trade legislation and whether the EU’s market power is sufficient to cause the diffusion of standards abroad. I do this by first analysing legislation that restricts trade based on a PPM, and then testing whether this has had an impact on global trade flows for the associated product.

My results show that the use of trade barriers to regulate PPMs is limited to highly salient and publicly debated topics. The instruments used to restrict trade have increasingly transferred the burden of control to the market participants’ side, predominantly using certification schemes and labelling rather than permits and bans. Furthermore, contemporaneous international norms and foci reflect the concerns used to justify these trade restrictions. The EU’s use of PPM requirements does have some effect on policy changes in the countries that it trades with, especially if these are small and highly integrated in trading with the EU through bilateral trade agreements. However, the EU’s influence on other powerful economies is rather low. Producers will reorient their exports to alternative markets if trade barriers are too high. Concerning broader questions of governance and sustainability, I conclude that the use of trade restrictions is generally a controversial policy measure, and calls attention to social and environmental grievances amongst a wider audience than purely political negotiations do. (Less)
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author
Möller, Ina Maria LU
supervisor
organization
course
MESM01 20141
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
Market Power Europe, Normative Power Europe, EU, PPMs, Sustainability Science
publication/series
Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science
report number
2014:027
language
English
id
4462836
date added to LUP
2014-06-23 11:37:34
date last changed
2014-06-23 11:37:34
@misc{4462836,
  abstract     = {The production and consumption of material goods, and the expansion of globalised trade have led to an increased outsourcing of resource depletion and pollution by post-industrialised countries. Although governments with sustainability policies may have improved standards in process and production methods (PPMs) within their own territories, the consumption of imported goods continues to have negative social and environmental impacts in the countries of origin. 

Consumers (as well as producers) should assume responsibility for these negative impacts of their consumption. I examine the European Union (EU) as a major global consumer and its efforts to address its responsibilities by using trade barriers to enforce higher PPM standards abroad. I use the theoretical concepts of Normative Power Europe (NPE) and Market Power Europe (MPE) to analyse the role of EU norms in addressing PPM standards through trade legislation and whether the EU’s market power is sufficient to cause the diffusion of standards abroad. I do this by first analysing legislation that restricts trade based on a PPM, and then testing whether this has had an impact on global trade flows for the associated product. 

My results show that the use of trade barriers to regulate PPMs is limited to highly salient and publicly debated topics. The instruments used to restrict trade have increasingly transferred the burden of control to the market participants’ side, predominantly using certification schemes and labelling rather than permits and bans. Furthermore, contemporaneous international norms and foci reflect the concerns used to justify these trade restrictions. The EU’s use of PPM requirements does have some effect on policy changes in the countries that it trades with, especially if these are small and highly integrated in trading with the EU through bilateral trade agreements. However, the EU’s influence on other powerful economies is rather low. Producers will reorient their exports to alternative markets if trade barriers are too high. Concerning broader questions of governance and sustainability, I conclude that the use of trade restrictions is generally a controversial policy measure, and calls attention to social and environmental grievances amongst a wider audience than purely political negotiations do.},
  author       = {Möller, Ina Maria},
  keyword      = {Market Power Europe,Normative Power Europe,EU,PPMs,Sustainability Science},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  series       = {Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science},
  title        = {Importing products, exporting standards? : examining how the European Union diffuses sustainable process and production methods through trade restriction},
  year         = {2014},
}