In addition to these market access conditions, more general provisions on sustainable development will be incorporated into the free trade agreements analysed. These include specific mechanisms to deepen commitments and improve cooperation and implementation, for example through advisory committees or groups. The forms in which free trade agreements contain provisions on sustainable development are defined by specific chapters, pre-ambulatory references, specific paragraphs in the main part of the agreement, as well as by ancillary agreements or annexes. Third, many countries face difficulties in formulating their national sustainability standards in a structured manner. Some areas, such as labour law, are clearer. In other areas, sustainable development policies are often conceived as ambitions to reduce a particular phenomenon. There are only a few examples where policies have been formulated as a standard – a specific condition for market access or the placing on the market of a good. This is likely a critical point for governments considering introducing higher standards, with consequences for market access for foreign producers. As already stated, foreign products that do not comply with the national standard may be denied market access, provided, however, that the standard is a clearly defined policy, based on scientific knowledge and not arbitrary. The partial nature of many standards is a problem in this context. To avoid confusion or criticism that standards are trade restrictions in disguise, countries like Norway need to structure and systematize their standards if ambitions are reinforced and are part of market access policy.
A first step towards a directive that attempts to make imports subject to compliance with a situation is to make the standard clear and explicit. . . .