Better Regulation for Freer Trade

Project Expert

Thomas J. Bollyky
Thomas J. Bollyky

Senior Fellow for Global Health, Economics, and Development and Director of the Global Health Program

About the Project

Changes in the way the world trades have increased the importance of regulation in international commerce. Fewer goods and services originate "from" any one place or any one supplier, but rather consist of components and tasks from multiple suppliers scattered across several countries. Consistent, adequate, and predictable regulation is essential to the success of these global supply chains, but remains elusive. Without international coordination, national regulations and private standards have proliferated. The resulting chaos has done little to promote exports or effective regulatory oversight. Uncoordinated regulations challenge multinational corporations and small- and medium-sized businesses alike and keep developing country goods from entering new markets. Given the scale and complexity of global supply chains, the adequacy of health, safety, and environmental regulation in one country increasingly depends on the adequacy and consistency of those regulations in other countries. In this environment, trade negotiators and regulators need one another, but have struggled to develop the arrangements that can foster the necessary cooperation. My work examines the changing role of regulation in international commerce, its implications for international trade initiatives and institutions, and strategies and approaches that can promote better regulatory cooperation for freer trade.