Norm Assembly in Global Value Chains

Trang (Mae) Nguyen, Assistant Professor of Law, Temple University Beasley School of Law

4:30pm - 6:00pm | CSCC Conference Room, 133 S. 36th St, Room 418

This talk is based on Professor Nguyen's recent article: Norm Assembly in Global Value Chains (https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3878596). The article examines the phenomenon of transnational suppliers in global value chains (GVCs) and explores their legal consequences. In today’s “made in the world” era of dispersed production, it is often assumed that multinational brands, usually based in developed economies, are the rulemakers in global trade, who dictate the terms of engagement to a sprawling, unruly network of foreign suppliers and contractors worldwide. This conceptualization of “buyer-driven” GVCs, characterized by highly asymmetric bargaining power, undergirds a wide range of laws and policies aimed at regulating cross-border transactions, including supplier contracts and auditing regimes, supply chain disclosure obligations, and corporate social responsibility initiatives. By contrast, this article argues that this stylized picture of globalization is no longer complete. Today, just as corporate retailers in developed economies divest and outsource, their foreign-based first-tier suppliers, in an osmosis move, have increasingly scaled up and consolidated to meet the demands of global production and competition. As a result, a group of powerful but largely hidden global economic actors—transnational suppliers and manufacturers—have emerged as a new crop of multinational enterprises.