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Open access

Sorin Burnete and Pilasluck Choomta

Abstract

The adoption by the European Union of environmental and social standards seems to affect trade relations with countries from outside the Union. Most seriously hurt are a great number of developing countries that are highly dependent on the European market for their exports. Complying with the said regulations means higher production costs, which eat into the respective countries’ international competitiveness. However, for all the widespread discontent, many developing countries are taking steps in order to adjust their production and export systems to the new rules. Unfortunately it will probably take a long time until full compliance is achieved. Meanwhile, in the short run, the frequent clashes between developing countries and their partners in the West in respect of environmental and social issues are disrupting the smooth functioning of international trade.

Open access

Sorin Burnete and Choomta Pilasluck

Abstract

The relation between international trade and environmental and social issues has deep historical roots, having been manifest ever since the first industrial revolution. Ironically, the expansion of industrial activities marked, besides the exit from economic backwardness, the commencement of an inexorable war of men against nature. Concomitantly industrialization laid the groundwork for an explosive increase in international trade, which made the latter responsible for increasing environment degradation and social rights infringement. The removal of trade barriers in the first decades after the Second World War as well as the subsequent regulation induced by globalization rendered the bad effects of man’s activity upon nature even more conspicuous. Yet somewhat paradoxically, for all the harm inflicted upon the environment so far, international trade now seems to be an efficient vehicle by which dirty production still prevailing in many countries of the world could be curtailed. The paper is intended to explore, from historical perspective, how environmental issues have come to be entangled with international trade and how serious the problem is.