Improving global value chains key for EU trade

13-06-2016

Global value chains, and the related trade in intermediate goods and services, dominate today's interconnected economy. Tragic events, such as the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in 2013, have shed new light on the operation of these chains. Pressure is mounting on the various stakeholders involved at both national and international levels to prevent and mitigate the risks of the adverse effects linked to their functioning. Although a number of promising initiatives have been launched and some improvements have been made, much remains to be done. Promotion of sustainability and responsible management of global value chains figure prominently on the agendas of organisations such as the United Nations (UN), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the International Labour Organization (ILO). The EU also plays a part. One of the main objectives of the EU is to integrate sustainability, with its various economic, social and environmental dimensions, into all relevant internal policies and external action. Against this backdrop and building on its ongoing initiatives, existing policy frameworks and instruments, the EU is and has been encouraging efforts to promote sustainable value chains. How best to address this challenge is key to the EU's new trade and investment strategy 'Trade for all'. The new European Commission initiatives currently under development, such as the EU Garment Initiative and the EU Action Plan on Responsible Business Conduct, and the Council conclusions of May 2016 on Responsible Global Value Chains are in line with this endeavour.

Global value chains, and the related trade in intermediate goods and services, dominate today's interconnected economy. Tragic events, such as the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in 2013, have shed new light on the operation of these chains. Pressure is mounting on the various stakeholders involved at both national and international levels to prevent and mitigate the risks of the adverse effects linked to their functioning. Although a number of promising initiatives have been launched and some improvements have been made, much remains to be done. Promotion of sustainability and responsible management of global value chains figure prominently on the agendas of organisations such as the United Nations (UN), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the International Labour Organization (ILO). The EU also plays a part. One of the main objectives of the EU is to integrate sustainability, with its various economic, social and environmental dimensions, into all relevant internal policies and external action. Against this backdrop and building on its ongoing initiatives, existing policy frameworks and instruments, the EU is and has been encouraging efforts to promote sustainable value chains. How best to address this challenge is key to the EU's new trade and investment strategy 'Trade for all'. The new European Commission initiatives currently under development, such as the EU Garment Initiative and the EU Action Plan on Responsible Business Conduct, and the Council conclusions of May 2016 on Responsible Global Value Chains are in line with this endeavour.