Hinrich Foundation Research Fellow Stephen Olson provided his insights on sustainability in international trade at the Responsible Business and Human Rights Forum (RBHR Forum), held at United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok on June 13, 2019.

The RBHR Forum is a multi-stakeholder event addressing an array of priority issues under the Responsible Business Conduct and Business and Human Rights Agendas. The Forum took place during Bangkok Business and Human Rights Week, 10-14 June.

Stephen Olson participates in trade discussion at UNDP

It was co-organized by the Royal Thai Government, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), International Labour Organization (ILO) and with the participation of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights. The RBHR Forum includes the OECD Global Forum on Responsible Business Conduct.

Olson participated in a panel discussion, titled “Promoting Responsible Business and Human Rights in Global Trade and Investment”. The discussion focused on the practical ways that governments and business are promoting sustainability in trade and investment strategies and policy action.

During the discussion, Olson noted that Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) are increasingly including provisions on labor and other sustainability-related issues. These provisions are becoming common and more substantive, although serious questions about enforceability remain.

The panellists included:

  • Hilde Hardeman, Director and Head of Service, Foreign Policy Instruments, EU
  • Young Tae Kim, Secretary-General, International Transport Forum
  • Stephen Olson, Research Fellow, Hinrich Foundation
  • Thant Sin Lwin, Director General, Directorate of Investment and Company Administration, Ministry of Investment and Foreign Economic Relations, Myanmar
  • Gerald Sun, Senior Vice President for Strategic Growth – Asia Pacific, Mastercard
  • Ben Van Peperstraete, Lobby and Advocacy Coordinator / Clean Clothes Campaign

Olson also pointed out that trade-driven economic development has been one of the strongest drivers of rising labor standards throughout the developing world.

On trade sustainability, Olson said, “We have noted a broad regression in trade sustainability throughout the region. We’ll look at the 2020 edition of the Hinrich Foundation Sustainable Trade Index to see if this is the beginning of a longer term trend.”

To know more about Hinrich Foundation Sustainable Trade Index, click here.

About the author- Pragya Bhatnagar

Hinrich Foundation launches Indonesia Digital Trade Report in Jakarta 2Pragya Bhatnagar is a Research Associate with the Hinrich Foundation where he focuses on International Trade Research. He is a Hinrich Foundation Global Trade Leader Scholar alumnus, earning his Master’s degree in International Journalism, specializing in Business and Financial Journalism, from Hong Kong Baptist University. He received his bachelor’s degree in Economics from Lucknow University, India.