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Suppliers’ Access to Voluntary Sustainability Standards


  • Matteo Fiorini
  • Bernard Hoekman
  • Marion Jansen Philip Schleifer, Olga Solleder, Regina Taimasova and Joseph Wozniak


Voluntary Sustainability Standards (VSS) have long become a usual attribute of international production and trade. Despite the fact that VSS are not legally binding, in order to be a part of global value chains, they have become de facto mandatory, and non-compliance may lead to exclusion of producers from the value chains. The relevance of VSS is reflected by a growing literature across social sciences, in particular economics and political science. This paper describes a new database that collects comparable information on 180 standards and their governance structure, across a wide range of products and countries. We conduct a first empirical analysis of this data with a primary focus on two aspects of standards and their governance: their practices and features in support of producers, and their geographic availability. We find high variability of support and availability across standards systems and countries respectively. Finally, we identify standards- and country-specific features associated with higher support to producers and higher geographic availability.

Suggested Citation

  • Matteo Fiorini & Bernard Hoekman & Marion Jansen Philip Schleifer, Olga Solleder, Regina Taimasova and Joseph Wozniak, 2017. "Suppliers’ Access to Voluntary Sustainability Standards," RSCAS Working Papers 2017/18, European University Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:rsc:rsceui:2017/18

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Johannesson, Louise & Mavroidis, Petros C., 2015. "Black Cat, White Cat: The Identity of the WTO Judges," Working Paper Series 1066, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
    2. Tan LI & Larry D. QIU, 2015. "Beyond Trade Creation: Free Trade Agreements and Trade Disputes," Working Papers DP-2015-28, Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA).
    3. Petros C. Mavroidis, 2016. "Dispute Settlement in the WTO. Mind over Matter," RSCAS Working Papers 2016/04, European University Institute.
    4. Schwartz, Warren F & Sykes, Alan O, 2002. "The Economic Structure of Renegotiation and Dispute Resolution in the World Trade Organization," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(1), pages 179-204, January.
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    More about this item


    Standards; voluntary sustainability standards; sustainable development; SME; Global Value Chains; Certification.;

    JEL classification:

    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • L15 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Information and Product Quality
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • Q01 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General - - - Sustainable Development

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