Vietnam's textile industry and the international trade regime - potential for a transition towards more sustainable development

Bryn Lindblad

Studenteropgave: Speciale


This thesis takes Vietnam's textile industry as a case study of race-to-the-bottom dynamics and export-oriented growth to suggest how the international trade regime could play a role in steering its more sustainable development. The author makes use of published sources of information as well as empirical evidence collected first-hand through qualitative interviews to reveal the dynamics at play which are preventing the sector from developing in the way that the country's legal framework dictates it should. The case study demonstrates that the distribution of responsibilities and instance of widespread corruption create a lack of economic incentives for environmental compliance to occur. An insider culture of favoritism and a general lack of transparency make it a difficult realm to address, and it seems that the motivation to do so will have to come externally, as deeply engrained path dependencies make it unlikely that change will be spurred from within. The international trade regime has both brought about a contentious negotiating culture in the multilateral realm and resorted to such as a consequence of its narrowing of its mandate to focus on market access expansion as opposed to a broader development-oriented aim. Regional and bilateral attempts to augment this multilateral trade diplomacy standstill have created a highly complex institutional context ridden with varying procedures with which to comply, standards to be met, and loopholes to exploit. Based on these findings, the author suggests how the international trade regime could take on a more reflexive governance approach and work to internalize environmental externalities through customs duties so as to prevent race-to-the-bottom dynamics from occurring. The improved accountability, transparency, and more integrated mode of addressing international trade issues are what are needed to steer development patterns in a more sustainable direction.

UddannelserTekSam - miljøplanlægning, (Bachelor/kandidatuddannelse) Kandidat
Udgivelsesdato4 jun. 2014
VejledereSøren Lund


  • Vietnam's textile industry
  • International trade regime
  • Sustainable development