The Political Economy of Sustainable Palm Oil in China and India

New research looks into emerging markets and private governance, in particular at the case of sustainable palm oil in China and India. Carried out by Dr. Philip Schleifer from University of Amsterdam and Dr. Yixian Sun from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID), the study suggested that “private governance programs are now an important source of regulation in global value chains – particularly in the context of North-South trade”. The study posed the question of whether these private governance programs could play a similar role in some fast-growing emerging markets such as China and India?

With the analysis of the authors on the Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil, a leading non-state certification program, in India and China, they found out that private sustainability governance are not yet present in these markets. However, the authors also discovered that “emerging markets are not a unified category”. The study observed that “sustainable palm oil is beginning to gain momentum in China, whereas uptake in India remains much weaker.” By further looking into market conditions in the two countries, the authors argue that the market condition is more favorable in China. In line with other recent studies, the research also highlights “the role of the Chinese state in creating awareness of and shaping firms’ interests in sustainable palm oil.”

The full article can be found published online in the Journal — Review of International Political Economy.