OECD Trade Policy Studies

1990-1534 (online)
1990-1542 (print)
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A series of OECD reports on various aspects of trade policy. Recent reports have covered such topics as universal access to basic services offered internationally, the role of non-tariff barriers, and environmental requirements and market access.

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Environmental Requirements and Market Access

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28 Nov 2005
9789264013742 (PDF) ;9789264013735(print)

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Investigating over twenty cases where exports from developing countries faced new environmental requirements, this OECD report examines how environmental requirements can be trade barriers for developing countries. These case studies, covering a diverse number of products and exporting countries, trace a number of environmental regulations, standards and labelling schemes, from conception through implementation. In so doing, they highlight the difference that sensitivity to potential trade effects can make when designing environmental regulations and standards. They also show that timely technical assistance has played a crucial role in helping exporters from developing countries adjust to new environmental requirements without suffering adverse trade effects.

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  • Acronyms
  • Executive Summary
    Developing countries want to boost their income through exports. Importers, particularly industrialised countries, want to ensure that imported goods meet their own established requirements for health, safety and the environment. Their consumers may also want to minimise the environmental impacts of producing and using those goods. In theory, these goals are compatible.
  • Case Studies on Environmental Requirements and Market Access
  • Limits on Formaldehyde in Textiles
    This chapter examines the effects of regulations, first established by Japan some three decades ago, restricting the formaldehyde content in textiles. Similar restrictions have since been implemented in other developed countries. The study shows that developingcountry exporters are often unaware of such restrictions, a fact that may lead to denial of market access. Efforts now are being made to disseminate information about the regulations, notably in the Philippines.
  • Limits on Aromatic Amines in Textiles Coloured with Azo Dyes

    This chapter looks at the effects of bans of certain dye agents, collectively called azo dyes, on shifts in the production of such substances and on the measures taken by the developing countries that are the major producers and users of such dyes in order to achieve compliance with the import tolerances imposed, notably in Europe, and how they became aware of and responded to the European legislation.

  • Limits on Chemical Residues in Leather Goods
    In the light of limits placed on chemical residues in leather and leather products, this chapter looks at how various limits imposed by importing countries has affected leather exporters, particularly in the least-developed countries. It draws attention to the importance of diffusion of relevant information and the beneficial effects of new regulations on the environment and worker’s health in developing countries.
  • Limits on Cadmium in Plastics and PVC

    This chapter looks at the effects of the EU Directive limiting the acceptable level of cadmium, a toxic chemical used in the production of plastics. It shows that products exceeding the acceptable limits continue to be imported, sometimes as a result of ignorance in producing and exporting countries, sometimes because of differences in limits set by EU countries, and sometimes because the imported products contain a multiplicity of components obtained from a variety of suppliers, some in compliance, some not.

  • US Import Procedures for Gasoline
    This chapter discusses how the US Gasoline Rule, which aimed to reduce pollutants in gasoline in order to meet environmental goals, affected foreign refiners seeking access to the US market. It shows how the targets exporting countries are required to meet in order to access the US market were defined and the procedures that have been adopted. It brings out the importance of addressing market access effects for key developing-country exporters when developing the regulations.
  • Limits on Pesticide Residues in Snow Peas
    This chapter examines the problems resulting from pesticide residues in snow peas produced in Guatemala and imported into the United States that exceeded the limits set by US regulations. The production of snow peas was originally encouraged by USAID, which eventually undertook research on and training in pest management in order to avoid excess pesticide residue in export crops.
  • Limits on Pesticide Residues in Tea
    This chapter discusses the effects of pesticide residue limits on exports by Indian tea producers and of the absence of internationally harmonised regulations. It draws attention to producers’ complaints about the differences in the limits set by different countries and to what they perceived as the arbitrariness of Germany’s limits, to reactions by consumer groups, and to the choice made by some Indian producers to shift to an "organic" product both to satisfy consumers and increase profit margins for a quality product.
  • Limiting Pesticide Residues in Pineapples
    Over the last 20 years, Ghana has expanded rapidly into the production of pineapples for export, particularly to the EU. This export trade was put at risk of being severely disrupted, however, as a result of new regulations relating to pesticide residues in food, introduced by the EU starting in the 1990s, and later of private standards on good agricultural practice introduced by a group of European importers and retailers of fruits and vegetables.
  • Phytosanitary Measures Affecting the Import of Fresh Durian Fruit
    This chapter discusses Australian measures designed to ensure that plant pests linked to durian fruit, which are not present in Australia, do not enter the country in shipments of the fruit in a fresh state. It describes the lengthy and difficult negotiations with Thailand, which exports the fruit and regarded some of the conditions for testing either unreasonable or protective of Australian growers, and the Australian authorities, which wanted to avoid the entry of new pests in the imported fruit.
  • Sustainability Labels for Wood and Wood Products
    This chapter describes a Dutch bill to make registration of the origin and production process of wood and wood products compulsory. It reflects the Dutch government’s and the country’s "green" party’s wish to reduce the pressures on forests, and particularly tropical forests.
  • Adapting Turtle-excluder Devices to Local Conditions
    This chapter discusses US technical standards for protecting sea turtles when fishing for shrimp. Exporters of shrimp to the United States must be certified as meeting the same environmental goals. Different local conditions meant that Costa Rica encountered difficulties in using the US device. The process of finding a solution acceptable to both is described.
  • Phasing Out Methyl Bromide
    This chapter discusses the process by which the ozone-depleting chemical, methyl bromide, an effective fumigant, is being phased out. An important innovation of the Montreal Protocol was the creation of a special fund to help finance efforts to find substitute products and have them adopted. However, an unintended consequence of accelerated research on finding alternatives is new pesticide/crop combinations for which associated import tolerances (residue limits) have in a number of cases not yet been established.
  • Standards for Organic Foods and Beverages
    This chapter draws attention to the complexity of setting standards for "organic" goods and beverages, a growing market particularly in the developed countries.
  • The European Union's Import Procedures for Organic Foods and Beverages
    This chapter describes EU import procedures for organic foods and beverages. It describes problems that have arisen for the certification or accreditation of producers, notably in developing countries. Examples are taken from Uganda, Chile and Mexico.
  • Japan's Regulations Affecting the Labelling of Organic Plant Products
    This chapter describes in detail Japan’s regulations for the labelling of food products from plants as organic, including details concerning the modalities of certification and accreditation of foreign suppliers.
  • Eco-labels for Cut Flowers
    Concern about environmental and labour conditions in developing-country flower-export sectors led environment and human rights groups to seek to establish a private eco-labelling scheme for cut flowers. While some countries have responded positively, Colombia, a major producer of cut flowers, did not, and has established its own flower-exporting association. The dialogue remains open.
  • Mangrove Protection Initiatives and Farmed Shrimp
    This chapter shows how the sometimes destructive effects of shrimp farming on mangrove forests led some environmental groups to try to block expansion of the industry. In response, the shrimp aquaculture industry developed a voluntary programme to certify responsible aquaculture practices. As well, various intergovernmental organisations have joined forces to improve the environmental performance of shrimp farming.
  • Private Certification of a Fishery as Sustainable
    This chapter describes the development of a voluntary, third-party certification scheme based on standards for sustainable fishing practices. First proposed by an environmental group and a large corporation, the scheme has gradually gained supporters through its efforts to inform the various stakeholders and convince the fishing industry of the value of certification, which requires abiding by a set of principles and criteria and gives the right to use the scheme’s logo.
  • The International Fruit Container Organisation (IFCO) Returnable Packaging Initiative
    This chapter discusses a private-sector initiative in Germany to require the use of recyclable packaging for shipments of fresh fruits and vegetables, following Germany’s adoption of regulations requiring the disposal of packaging materials. No efforts were made to consult other countries, and the adoption of the system by developing-country exporters of fruits, on whom the requirements place a particularly heavy burden, relied mainly on commercial contacts.
  • Developing an International Standard for "Green" Tourism
    This chapter provides an example of the strengths and weakness of a private eco-labelling scheme applied to an industry that is not always well-versed in environmental practice. The costs, and uncertain benefits, of such a scheme raise significant issues for developing-country suppliers.
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