Supermarkets and Private Standards of Sustainability: the responsibility to protect without protectionism


  • MPGI

Área de conhecimento: 

  • Sustentabilidade


  • Tiago Matsuoka Megale




The current international economic scenario is characterized by the presence of an increasing number of multinational enterprises, the formation of global value chains and the creation of transnational regulatory networks. These phenomena contribute to the erosion of the State regulatory capacity and generate questions about how to regulate the structures created by private actors. The aim of this research is to analyze to which extent private standards of sustainability imposed by supermarkets protect common values as the human life or health instead of constituting disguised restrictions to trade. Sustainability standards constitute initiatives that can be welcome on a CSR perspective, but can be protectionist on trade transactions. These standards stand on a legal vacuum as the multilateral trade system centered on the WTO does not directly regulate the conduct of private actors. This legal vacuum is fulfilled by the OECD regulatory structure on CSR that reflects the global expansion of corporate social responsibility and the proposed business cases for CSR. The analysis and the case studies disclosed that the essence of the aforementioned standards can be determined through the limited scope of WTO treaties that regulate non-tariff barriers to trade and the search of coherence between supermarkets’ sustainability policies and OECD rules. This dissertation also calls for the deepening of the international sustainability agenda that goes beyond the classical economic, environmental and social pillars to encompass principles of good governance.

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