Currently, domestic demand appears to be a limiting factor in developing countries’ uptake of certification schemes—a stronger domestic demand could act as insurance for producers against volatility in the global market. Moreover, in some instances certification is perceived as a new constraint on access to developed-world markets. These voluntary standards are not considered globally accepted standards, and so participants noted that some developing-world producers consider certification a new “hoop” they must jump through in order to export their products to the United States and Europe. The World Trade Organization (WTO) does discourage member countries from using environmental standards as trade barriers, but, certification schemes have typically been exempted because they are considered voluntary, rather than government-imposed requirements. There is likely to be much more investigation into how third-party certification regimes may act as technical barriers to trade as defined by the WTO.

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