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     Are social standards relevant for trade in natural products?

     Social issues are becoming increasingly important in international trade. All though exporters are not obliged to comply with labour conditions in import countries, trading partners in import countries may require a minimum of social standards to be complied with by exporters. Hence, market access may be eased through compliance with social or ethical trading requirements, suppliers' declarations, social responsibility and social accountability schemes. Examples of social market requirements include Occupational Health and Safety (OHS), which ensures a healthy and safe work environment, and the conventions of The International Labour Organisation, ILO, which set standards for basic labour rights (www.ilo.org). Examples of standards for fair and ethical trade include those of the Fair Trade Labeling Organization International (FLO) (www.fairtrade.net), and of Social Accountability International (SAI) (http://www.sa-intl.org).

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