Free Trade Agreements and Responsible Business: Examples from the EU’s Bilateral Agreements in East and Southeast Asia

  • Erja Kettunen-Matilainen
  • Claes G. Alvstam


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.


FTAs EU Asia Sustainable development Corporate responsibility 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erja Kettunen-Matilainen
    • 1
  • Claes G. Alvstam
    • 2
  1. 1.Turku School of EconomicsUniversity of TurkuTurkuFinland
  2. 2.School of Business, Economics and LawUniversity of GothenburgGothenburgSweden

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