Chapter 2 examines the drivers of the development of national, publicly-promoted standards for sustainable palm oil in Indonesia and Malaysia. Much of the extensive literature in this field has focused on the differences between the national standards - the Indonesia Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) and Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) standards - and the largest private standards scheme, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). The new national standards are frequently characterized as rivals that aim to supplant or weaken the RSPO. While the discourses of the two national governments at the time of the introduction of the standards did suggest rivalry, an analysis of the impact of the national standards on trade and their further subsequent development and modification highlights the ineffectiveness of their role as creators of new frameworks for trade, but shows how their importance in the domestic arena as drivers of rural transformation and improvements in the livelihoods of smallholder farmers.
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