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Sustainable trade

Sustainable Trade Index 2018

Published 26 June 2018

Our Sustainable Trade Index evaluates the readiness of 20 Indo-Pacific economies for sustainable trade. It was created to encourage meaningful discussions amongst policymakers and business executives about the linkages between trade and sustainability.

Special announcement: The Sustainable Trade Index 2020 was published on 27 October 2020. Our online launch event, co-organized with UNESCAP - ARTNet, examined the role of sustainable trade in building back better in a post-pandemic world. The event included discussants from the ILO, EIU, OECD Trade and ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute. Click here to watch a recording of the event.

About the Index

The Hinrich Foundation commissioned the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) in 2016 to develop a bi-annual Sustainable Trade Index (STI). 

STI 2018, the second in the series, evaluates the readiness of 20 Indo-Pacific economies to trade in a manner that provides environmental and social benefits in addition to economic growth. 

  • Economies can use the STI to benchmark their performance and evaluate the future impacts of their trade policies
  • Companies can use the Index's dataset to evaluate the sustainability impacts of their global value chains

Read more about the Index.

STI 2018 findings

The Sustainable Trade Index 2018 shows that bad policy choices are impeding Asian economies, particularly the richer ones, to participate sustainably in trade. This is a worrying trend that requires policy attention.

  • As trade tensions are rising and protectionist forces are on the march, trade sustainability - and more particularly, the equitable distribution of trade benefits - have become essential considerations.
  • The achievement of balanced economic, environmental and social outcomes through trade encourages global engagement and builds stronger economies. 
  • The lack of achievement, therefore, can hobble economic growth, heighten social tensions and strain international relations. 
  • On the positive side, some middle-income economies (in per capita terms) such as Sri Lanka, China and Vietnam have leapfrogged the richer ones on trade sustainability, and they are turning this into a competitive advantage. 

The STI dataset

The detailed results for the 20 economies reviewed in the STI are presented in an excel format. Results can be compared accross economies, indicators and years.

Get access to the dataset and all STI 2018 materials here.

Country reports

The STI 2018 also includes an in-depth breakdown of a country's performance on the 2018 Index.

Access different country reports and all STI 2018 materials here.

1st Hong Kong   11th India  
2nd S.Korea   12th Malaysia  
3rd Singapore   13th Thailand  
4th Japan   14th Indonesia  
5th USA   15th Brunei  
6th Taiwan   16th Pakistan  
7th Sri Lanka   17th Bangladesh  
8th China   18th Laos  
9th Vietnam   19th Cambodia  
10th Philippines   20th Myanmar  


It is now abundantly clear that countries that fall short on trade sustainability face competitiveness, social and environmental issues. APAC economies are encouraged to use the index to benchmark their performance and view positive examples of trade policy. 


The Sustainable Trade Index is currently in its third edition. You may access the first and third edition below:

© The Hinrich Foundation. See our website Terms and conditions for our copyright and reprint policy. All statements of fact and the views, conclusions and recommendations expressed in this publication are the sole responsibility of the author(s).

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