The Sustainable Development Clauses in Free Trade Agreements: an EU Perspective for ASEAN?
This paper reviews the sustainable development provisions in the EU’s Generalised System of Preferences as well as in the EU-Korea FTA discussing the recent negotiations on bilateral trade agreements with ASEAN countries in view of a future interregional EU-ASEAN FTA. Since the mid-1990s, the unique and systematic EU approach of linking international labour conventions and multilateral environmental agreements in the EU GSP and international trade agreements, has aimed at promoting sustainable development through preferential trade. The list of international labour and environmental conventions of the new 2014 GSP of the EU can evidently be considered as its level of aspiration with respect to the end-result to which its future FTAs with ASEAN countries hopefully will lead. But there are still hurdles to overcome, such as how to deal with the ecological footprint of palm oil biofuel and with illegal logging and timber trade, to mention two examples.