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The Hinrich-IMD Sustainable Trade Index 2023

The Hinrich-IMD Sustainable Trade Index 2023

Sustainable Trade Index

The IMD World Competitiveness Center and the Hinrich Foundation combined their expertise in 2022 to build the Hinrich-IMD Sustainable Trade Index to stimulate discussion among policymakers, business executives, and civil society leaders striving to advance sustainable and mutually beneficial global trade.

The Hinrich Foundation is a unique Asia-based philanthropic organization that works to advance mutually beneficial and sustainable global trade. It believes sustainable global trade strengthens relationships between nations and improves people’s lives and supports original research and education programs that build understanding and leadership in global trade. It prides itself on taking an approach that is independent, fact-based, and objective, and on being an authoritative source of knowledge, sharp analysis, and fresh thinking for policymakers, businesses, media, and scholars engaged in global trade.

The Hinrich-IMD Sustainable Trade Index measures a country’s readiness and capacity to participate in the international trading system in a manner that supports the long-term goals of economic growth, environmental protection, and societal development.  

While global trade has helped lift hundreds of millions of people around the world out of poverty, the benefits do not come without risks. If an economy is unprepared for the consequences of trade growth, it may result in labor disruption, environmental degradation, and worsening inequality. However, proactive and responsible government policy and farsighted corporate decision making can harness the positive elements of trade while mitigating the negative, making for a more robust global trading community.


The Hinrich-IMD Sustainable Trade Index measures 30 economies’ readiness and capacity to participate in the global trading system in a manner that supports the long-term goals of economic growth, environmental protection, and societal development.

It does so via 71 indicators (pieces of data) from a wide variety of sources (each cited), which are then grouped into three pillars:

The Economic pillar

This measures an economy’s ability to ensure and promote economic growth through international trade. In this category, economies receive scores for indicators that demonstrate a link between the trading system and economic growth.

Some indicators capture the quality of trade infrastructure, while others measure the ease of conducting international trade, such as current account convertibility, exchange rate stability, and trade costs associated with cross-border transactions.

We measure export diversification by evaluating an economy’s bilateral trade destinations and how heavily its exports are concentrated by sector – because economies with diversified export markets and products are better equipped to absorb external economic shocks.

Furthermore, we consider the technological infrastructure and innovation capabilities of an economy by assessing its emphasis on research and development investments and digital technologies, which are key drivers for the production of sophisticated and sustainable goods and services.

The Societal pillar

Social factors matter in an economy’s capacity to trade internationally over the long term. Economies are measured on the environment that encourages and supports the development of human capital, such as the extent of education and labor standards.

This pillar also captures factors that influence public support for trade expansion. These include income inequality, political stability, goods produced by forced and child labor, and governmental response to human trafficking.

The Environmental pillar

This measures the extent to which an economy’s trade supports sustainable resources. The factors include measurements of non-renewable natural resources in trade and the management of externalities that arise from economic growth and participation in the global trading system.

While an economy’s capacity to participate in the global trading system is dependent on economic development, achieving sustainable trade requires prudent stewardship of natural resources and limiting externalities in an economy’s economic calculus to promote its overall environmental capital.

The indicators in this section measure an economy’s environmental capital and include indicators for air and water pollution. In terms of future impact, we measure national environmental standards, carbon emissions, and share of natural resources in exports.

We added new indicators and updated other components to further refine the index from prior iterations.

For more on data preparation and data processing, please download the full 2023 report.


Economy Profiles

Includes the overall and pillar results and granular detail on all 71 indicators.

  • Asia Pacific
  • Europe, Middle East & Africa
  • The Americas
  •  - IMD Business School
    We must be cognizant of the challenges that global trade is facing if we want to continue enjoying its huge accelerative benefits

    The results of an in-depth joint study from IMD’s World Competitiveness Center (WCC) and Singapore’s Hinrich Foundation are set to stimulate debate on how to improve the sustainability of trade at a time in which the IMF, WTO, and OECD are united in their less-than-optimistic outlooks on global trade.

    Meet the team
     - IMD Business School
    Professor Arturo Bris
    Professor of Finance, Director of IMD World Competitiveness Center

    An author and in-demand speaker, Arturo Bris (www.arturobris.org) ranks among the top 100 most read finance academics in the world. His research and consulting activities focus on the international aspects of financial regulation, and in particular on the effects of bankruptcy, short sales, insider trading, and merger laws.


     - IMD Business School
    Christos Cabolis
    Chief Economist of the WCC and Adjunct Professor of Economics and Competitiveness

    Christos Cabolis is Chief Economist and Head of Operations at the IMD World Competitiveness Center. He is also Adjunct Professor of Economics and Competitiveness at IMD. His teaching focuses on courses related to Business Economics, Macroeconomics, Corporate Finance, Financial Management and Industrial Organization.

     - IMD Business School
    Chuin Wei Yap
    Program Director, International Trade Research at Hinrich Foundation

    As the program director for international trade research, Mr. Yap leads the Foundation’s development of original research content.

    Offering analysis and insights across the diverse domains of global trade, Mr. Yap…

     - IMD Business School
    Stephen Olson
    Senior Research Fellow at Hinrich Foundation

    Mr. Olson began his career in Washington DC as an international trade negotiator and served on the US negotiating team for the NAFTA negotiations.

    He subsequently became president of the Hong Kong-based Pacific Basin…

    Full report

    The full report contains an expanded version of the above information.