Is international trade sustainable?

Nowadays, sustainability is rightly capitalized everywhere. Sustainable development represents one of the greatest global challenges of our time. It would be too brief to just keep in mind the ecological aspect. Because sustainability also includes an economic and a social dimension at the same time. It therefore requires holistic solutions and a strong involvement of the economy, which benefits from a key function in this area. After all, according to the UN, international trade serves as an engine for promoting sustainable development.

Trade in goods and services as well as foreign direct investment reduce poverty, improve the quality of life for many people and have a long-term positive effect on the environment. This requires good governance in the individual countries and responsible companies. Thanks to their comparatively high sustainability standards and high-quality export products, Swiss companies make a significant contribution to sustainable development in the world. They are among the most important foreign direct investors, especially in developing countries. This is often associated with a strong commitment in the field of training and the transfer of modern technologies.

In order to be able to exert a positive influence in the future, Swiss companies need access to world markets that is as free as possible. In a time of stagnant multilateral trade liberalization, this is increasingly ensured by bilateral free trade agreements. These are primarily economic agreements that aim to break down trade barriers. Intergovernmental organizations (UN, OECD, WTO, etc.) that negotiate and develop sustainability standards are of central importance. Switzerland should continue to play an active part in this.