Trade and Sustainable Development study published by the European Commission

15 FEBRUARY 2022

On 10 February, the European Commission published the study on a comparative analysis of trade and sustainable development instruments in trade agreements from around the world. The study was carried out by the London School of Economics, and is part of the EU’s review into its own 15-Point Action Plan document on Trade and Sustainable Development (TSD). As part of this process, the European Commission completed a public consultation in the final quarter of 2021.

The study looked at the approaches to trade and sustainable development in agreements covering the EU, Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland and the US. It finds that, by and large, most of these agreements depend on cooperation for implementation, and there are significant variations in the use of enforcement tools.

The key conclusions on implementation provisions in the selected countries’ FTAs are:

1.The most common institutional mechanism to deploy FTAs consists of joint committees and/or national contact points typically comprised of government officials at the cabinet or ministerial level.

2.Even for sanction-based enforcement models like in Canada and the US, cooperation remains the watchword for the implementation of TSD provisions, as illustrated by the prevalence of cooperation provisions in the selected FTAs’ labour and environmental provisions.

3.The comparative analysis of TSD provisions shows that references to international treaties are common for labour, social and environmental standards in most selected FTAs, but that the most frequent international organisation referred to remains the ILO.

4.Among the seven countries under study, civil society participation is rarely institutionalised and harmonised across several FTAs.

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Contact: Lebo Mofolo,