Free Trade Agreements and Responsible Business: Examples from the EU’s Bilateral Agreements in East and Southeast Asia
This chapter analyses the impact of free trade agreements on responsible business in Asian emerging economies. We review the origins of the discussion on sustainable development in international negotiations and conventions, and explore the EU’s three FTAs with Asian countries, i.e., South Korea, Singapore and Vietnam with respect to references to corporate social responsibility and sustainable development. Our main finding is the gradual evolution of the EU’s FTAs towards including more explicit clauses on environmental and labour issues. This conforms to the idea of multilateralising regionalism, i.e., that issues may be first agreed in bilateral or regional FTAs and then gradually transferred to the multilateral level. Despite not incurring direct impacts on firms, this may serve as an institutional push for countries to address the need for responsible business in national legislation.
KeywordsFTAs EU Asia Sustainable development Corporate responsibility
- Baldwin, R. (2014). Multilateralising 21st Century Regionalism. Global Forum on Trade: Reconciling Regionalism and Multilateralism in a Post-Bali World. OECD Conference, Feb 11–12, Paris.Google Scholar
- Baldwin, R., & Low, P. (Eds.). (2009). Multilateralizing Regionalism: Challenges for the Global Trading System. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Baldwin, R., & Thornton, P. (2008). Multilateralising Regionalism. Ideas for a WTO Action Plan on Regionalism. London: Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR).Google Scholar
- Bhagwati, J. (2008). Termites in the Trading System: How Preferential Agreements Undermine Free Trade. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Collier, P. (2007). The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done About It? Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Crane, A., & Matten, D. (2007). Editor’s Introduction: Corporate Social Responsibility as a Field of Scholarship. In A. Crane & D. Matten (Eds.), Corporate Social Responsibility. London: Sage.Google Scholar
- DG Trade. (2018a). EU Trade Policy. Countries and Regions: South Korea. Accessed 18 May 2018 at http://ec.europa.eu/trade/policy/countries-and-regions/countries/south-korea/.
- DG Trade. (2018b). EU Trade Policy. Countries and Regions: Singapore. Accessed 18 May 2018 at http://ec.europa.eu/trade/policy/countries-and-regions/countries/singapore/.
- DG Trade. (2018c). EU Trade Policy. Countries and Regions: Vietnam. Accessed 18 May 2018 at http://ec.europa.eu/trade/policy/countries-and-regions/countries/vietnam/.
- EESC. (2018). Employers’ Group. European Economic and Social Committee. Accessed 20 May 2018 at http://www.eesc.europa.eu/members-groups/groups/employers-group.
- European Commission. (2017). Trade and Sustainable Development (TSD) Chapters in EU Free Trade Agreements (FTAs). Non-paper of the Commission Services. Accessed 18 May 2018 at http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/press/index.cfm?id=1689.
- IISD. (1996). The World Trade Organization and Sustainable Development: An Independent Assessment. Winnipeg: International Institute for Sustainable Development.Google Scholar
- Krugman, P. (2012). End This Depression Now! New York: W. W. Norton.Google Scholar
- Oinas, P., & Kettunen, E. (2017). Realities of Responsible Business: Institutional and Structural Conditions in MNE-Local Government Bargaining. In M. Fuchs, S. Henn, M. Franz, & R. Mudambi (Eds.), Managing Culture and Interspace in Cross-Border Investments: Building a Global Company (pp. 135–145). New York and Oxon: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Reid, D. (1995). Sustainable Development: An Introductory Guide. London, UK: Earthscan and Routledge.Google Scholar
- Schwieder, R. (2016). Broadening the Global Compact Agenda. Columbia FDI Perspectives No. 189. New York: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment.Google Scholar
- Stiglitz, J. E. (2018). Globalization and Its Discontents Revisited: Anti-globalization in the Era of Trump. New York: W. W. Norton.Google Scholar
- UN. (2018a.) Sustainable Development: Background: General Assembly of the United Nations. Accessed 17 May 2018 at http://www.un.org/en/ga/president/65/issues/sustdev.shtml.
- UN. (2018b). Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform. Trade. Accessed 17 May 2018 at https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/topics/trade.
- UNCTAD. (2014). Investing in the SDGs: An Action Plan. World Investment Report. Geneva: United Nations Conference for Trade and Development.Google Scholar
- van Tulder, R., & van Zanten, J. A. (2018). MNEs and the Sustainable Development Goals: What Do First Steps Reveal? Columbia FDI Perspectives No. 227. New York: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment.Google Scholar
- Wagner, A. (2017). The Failure of Corporate Social Responsibility Provisions Within International Trade Agreements and Export Credit Agencies as a Solution. Boston University International Law Journal, 35, 195–221.Google Scholar
- Interview A, with an official at the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Helsinki, 19 April 2017.Google Scholar
- Interview B, with an official at the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Helsinki, 3 May 2017.Google Scholar
- Interview C, with an official at the Finnish Embassy in Seoul, 27 June 2016.Google Scholar
- Interview D, with an official at the EU Delegation in Korea, Seoul, 27 June 2016.Google Scholar
- Interview E, with a representative of the EU Chamber of Commerce in Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, 14 December 2015.Google Scholar
- Interview F, with an official at the Finnish Embassy in Seoul, 27 June 2016.Google Scholar