Handbook on International Trade Policy
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Handbook on International Trade Policy

Edited by William A. Kerr and James D. Gaisford

The Handbook on International Trade Policy is an insightful and comprehensive reference tool focusing on trade policy issues in the era of globalization. Each specially commissioned chapter deals with important international trade issues, discusses the current literature on the subject, and explores major controversies. The Handbook also directs the interested reader to further sources of information.
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Chapter 38: Ethical Issues in Trade

Grant E. Isaac


Grant E. Isaac Introduction Consumption decisions are a function of a product’s price and non-price attributes. The former refer to the product’s price relative to other ‘like’ products as well as the price of complementary products. The latter refer to the product attributes such as the process and production methods (PPM) employed relative to competing ‘like’ products and complementary products. They can include both safety-related attributes1 and non-safety-related attributes, often called technical attributes.2 Technical attributes broadly include various product requirements and specifications (which may include process and production methods), testing protocols, certification standards, and packaging and grading (which includes labelling issues such as country of origin, symbols, markings and terminology). It also includes conformity assessments – important for mutual recognition efforts – which are any procedures used, either directly or indirectly, to determine that relevant requirements in technical regulations (mandatory requirements) and standards (voluntary requirements) are fulfilled by foreign suppliers to the domestic market. Such requirements can include: sampling; testing and inspection; evaluation, verification and assurance; registration, accreditation and approval. A distinct subset of technical attributes – which may called ethical attributes – focus on how products were processed or produced with respect to particular values. For instance, consumers may wish to know the environmental impact of the product across its entire life cycle to ensure congruence with an environmental ethic. Or they may wish to know if certain labour standards or, perhaps, animal welfare standards were achieved during the good’s production. Or they may wish to know if...

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