‘Red tape’ is the common phrase used by business to argue against any form of regulation. This paper challenges the assertions made by business and gives us a better understanding of what ‘red tape’ really is. It finds that:
- Business regularly over-estimates the cost of ‘red tape’, often by a significant factor
- Red tape’ has actually helped to achieve tremendous progress in both social and environmental areas
- Countries with high levels of social and environmental protection are more competitive over time
- The costs of avoiding red-tape are high: and are borne by those least able to afford it, especially in developing countries
As a counterweight to anti-red tape rhetoric, the CORE coalition is proposing that business and regulators change their thinking about progressive regulation from ‘red tape’ that obstructs business to ‘road signs’ that provide companies with clear signposts towards ethical practices.