Trade, Social Preferences, and Regulatory Cooperation in the Era of Global Supply Chains

Project Expert

Thomas J. Bollyky
Thomas J. Bollyky

Bloomberg Chair in Global Health; Senior Fellow for International Economics, Law, and Development; and Director of the Global Health Program

About the Project

Changes in the way the world trades have increased the importance of regulatory cooperation 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. In an international economy characterized by global supply chains and distributed production, the achievement of fundamental state interests—from environmental and labor concerns to consumer product safety and global health security—depends on the economic, social, and cultural interactions that occur across borders. Cooperation on consistent, adequate, and predictable regulation is essential to the success of these global supply chains and the achievement of the social preferences of states. Uncoordinated regulations challenge multinational corporations and small- and medium-sized businesses alike and keep developing country goods from entering new markets. 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 regulatory cooperation in international commerce, its implications for international trade initiatives and institutions, and strategies and approaches that can promote better regulatory cooperation for freer trade.