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Hinrich Foundation Sustainable Trade Index measures all impacts of trade on Asian economies

Published 28 April 2016

The index is intended to stimulate discussion about the full range of considerations for policy makers, business executives and civil society leaders when managing and advancing their economy’s participation in global trade.

The Hinrich Foundation released the Hinrich Foundation Sustainable Trade Index prepared by The Economist Intelligence Unit.

The index measures the capacity of countries to participate in the international trading system in a manner that supports the long-term domestic and global goals of economic growth, environmental protection, and strengthening social capital.

Raising awareness about the economic, environmental and social impacts of trade

Merle A. Hinrich, the founder of the Hinrich Foundation, said: “Countries understand the importance of trade to their economic prosperity, and put a great deal of effect into preparing for the infrastructure needs of trade. But a country’s decision to become more successful in global trade should not be “at all costs”. This index seeks to identify the full effects of trade-oriented economic expansion on a country, including the social and environmental preparations countries should make in order to expand their trading capability.”

The Hinrich Foundation’s objective in launching this index is to bring attention to the full range of considerations for governments, policy advisors and businesses when contemplating the expansion of a country’s trading capacity. To address the question of whether environmental and social standards should be more relaxed for lower income countries, an income-weighted version of the index is also available.

Chris Clague, senior editor with The EIU, said: “Trade has been instrumental in lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, but there needs to be a more meaningful discussion among policymakers, the private sector, and civil society about how trade can be made more sustainable. This index, and the accompanying report, are designed to spark that discussion.”

The index measures the trade readiness of nineteen countries in Asia plus the US across the three recognized pillars of sustainability: economic, social and environmental. Singapore tops the overall ranking, followed closely by South Korea. Relative to their rank in terms of per capita GDP, South Korea, Vietnam and Cambodia outperform. From developing Asia, Malaysia is a notable performer in the economic pillar. Poor pollution scores impact the rankings of China and India.

The Hinrich Foundation welcomes feedback on the index, which can be downloaded along with an infographic and a workbook of the data here.

Hong Kong launch event

The Hinrich Foundation Sustainable Trade Index was launched on 28 April 2016 at an event hosted by the Asia Society Hong Kong Center and attended by business, government and community representatives of the evaluated economies.

About The Economist Intelligence Unit

The Economist Intelligence Unit is the world leader in global business intelligence. It is the business-to-business arm of The Economist Group, which publishes The Economist newspaper. As the world’s leading provider of country intelligence, The Economist Intelligence Unit helps executives make better business decisions by providing timely, reliable and impartial analysis on worldwide market trends and business strategies. More information about The Economist Intelligence Unit can be found here or follow us on Twitter.

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