International Trade Working Paper

The International Trade Working Paper series promptly documents and disseminates reviews, analytical work and think-pieces to facilitate the exchange of ideas and to stimulate debates and discussions on issues that are of interest to developing countries in general and Commonwealth members in particular. The issues considered in the papers may be evolving in nature, leading to further work and refinement at a later stage.


The Global Value Chain in Canned Tuna, the International Trade Regime and Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14

This paper examines the interaction of the international fisheries trade regime, global value chains in tuna and socio-economic development in low-income Commonwealth countries. The first section sketches the long historical relationship between European Union (EU) trade policy and domestic tuna processing in these countries. Even though the institutional landscape of trade policy is changing rapidly, the relationship for most of these countries has remained surprisingly relatively stable. Part of the explanation for this stability lies in the concentration of control of the EU-centred value chain in canned tuna by a small number of lead firms (‘chain governance’), which is explored in the second section. The third section analyses the actual and potential leverage of low-income Commonwealth states over segments of the tuna industry to ‘increase the economic benefits to Small Island developing States [SIDS] and least developed countries from the sustainable use of marine resources’ – a target of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 on the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources.1 The principal point of leverage examined is sovereign rights over fisheries access, which is set against the constraint of geographical isolation for many Commonwealth SIDS and the associated costs of ocean-going seafreight. With this set of analyses in mind, the final section reflects on the implementation by low income Commonwealth states of relevant trade-related components of SDG14.


Keywords: preferential trade agreements, global value chains, buyer power, corporate concentration, canned tuna, European Union, Pacific Islands, Africa
JEL: Q22: Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics / Renewable Resources and Conservation / Renewable Resources and Conservation: Fishery; Aquaculture; L66: Industrial Organization / Industry Studies: Manufacturing / Food; Beverages; Cosmetics; Tobacco; Wine and Spirits; L23: Industrial Organization / Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior / Organization of Production; H23: Public Economics / Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue / Taxation and Subsidies: Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies; F02: International Economics / General / International Economic Order and Integration; F63: International Economics / Economic Impacts of Globalization / Economic Impacts of Globalization: Economic Development; L10: Industrial Organization / Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance / Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance: General; O14: Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth / Economic Development / Industrialization; Manufacturing and Service Industries; Choice of Technology; F18: International Economics / Trade / Trade and Environment; P12: Economic Systems / Capitalist Systems / Capitalist Enterprises; L79: Industrial Organization / Industry Studies: Primary Products and Construction / Industry Studies: Primary Products and Construction: Other; F23: International Economics / International Factor Movements and International Business / Multinational Firms; International Business; L52: Industrial Organization / Regulation and Industrial Policy / Industrial Policy; Sectoral Planning Methods; F13: International Economics / Trade / Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
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