October 11, 2021 by Uncategorized 0

Trade Agreements and Labour Rights

Trade Agreements and Labour Rights

The origins of the U.S. approach can be found in the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the United States, Canada, and Mexico.43 NAFTA was the first U.S. trade agreement to include labor regulations, albeit in a parallel agreement.44 Since then, every free trade agreement signed by the United States has included labor regulations – maintaining a total of agreements with 20 countries.45 Provisions relating to the protection of the Labor has also become more central in U.S. free trade agreements. Since the 2004 free trade agreements with Chile and Singapore, labour rules have been set out in a special “labour chapter”. The USTR Office of Labor Affairs negotiates labor regulations through bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs). These provisions differ in detail between different free trade agreements, but generally include commitments to respect the fundamental rights of workers, to enforce labour rights effectively, to provide national procedural guarantees and to raise public awareness of labour law, as well as to establish consultation and dispute settlement mechanisms. The U.S. has a different model for enforcing its labor regulations against its trading partners. While the settlement of disputes between States parties to free trade agreements begins with consultation processes similar to those conducted under the EU model, complaints that cannot be resolved through consultations are subject to the same dispute settlement procedure as complaints arising from the trade chapters of the trade agreement, although procedures and penalties for non-compliance may vary. For example, in the Free Trade Agreement between the United States, the Dominican Republic and Central America (US-DR-CAFTA), there is a $15 million cap on compensation that can be imposed for the non-implementation of labor rights, while for the non-implementation of other obligations under the agreement (e.B.

intellectual property), the sanction that can be imposed is not restricted.53 Despite these sanction restrictions, this model is very different from the flexible advisory role of the complaint mechanism under the EU model. Labour standards are those that apply to how workers are treated. The term covers a wide range of things: from the use of child labour and forced labour to the right to organise and strike trade unions, minimum wages, health and safety conditions and working hours. AFL-CIO President John Sweeney denies that the application of labour standards could have protectionist effects. ILO standards are designed to protect the interests of workers in low- and high-income countries. The WTO and the United States strongly defend intellectual property rights and impose trade sanctions when developing countries violate these rights. Extending the same protection to workers` rights, he argues, cannot be protectionist. JF Hornbeck, “Free Trade Agreements: US Promotion and Oversight of Latin American Implementation” (2009) Inter-American Development Bank PB-I02 accessed July 19, 2019; Vogt (No. 46). European Commission, “Feedback and Way Forward on Improving the Implementation and Enforcement of Trade and Sustainable Development Chapters in EU Free Trade Agreements” (26 February 2018), Commission Staff Non-Paper accessed 19 July 2019.

As the scientific literature shows, there are a number of dispute resolution models that could be used in these reform efforts. Therefore, simply focusing on the shortcomings of the American model seems inappropriate. See Axel Marx et al., Dispute Settlement in the Trade and Sustainable Development Chapters of EU Trade Agreements (Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies 2016). Lewis Karesh noted that the current inclusion of workers` rights in the draft FTA law goes beyond previous free trade agreements with Singapore and Jordan, as for the first time, “fundamental labour rights in a free trade agreement are subject to the same dispute settlement procedures and remedies as trade provisions.” Karesh stressed that the Asian region is no stranger to solving workers` rights issues through trade agreements with the United States, as Korea and Singapore already have free trade agreements with labor provisions and negotiations on free trade agreements with Thailand and Malaysia have included open discussions on workers` rights. The GSP and Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (CIRA) models also provide incentives for the enforcement of workers` rights, as they provide a solid foundation for the commitments required by the USTR in free trade agreements. While it`s unclear how labor standards will evolve in laws like the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), Karesh noted that Congress is visibly putting more emphasis on encouraging stronger labor and enforcement efforts. Ultimately, Karesh explained that the incorporation of labour standards recognizes the role of workers in the global flow of goods and services, and that the imperative should now be to “think about how best to work together to take advantage of deepening trade relations to advance workers` rights.” Figure 2 Distribution of trade agreements by level of development of members and type of labour clause (cumulative, 1990-2014) In 1999, the United States signed a bilateral agreement on textile trade with Cambodia. It has linked preferential market access to labour standards. The ILO`s Better Factories Cambodia programme monitors working conditions in Cambodian garment factories and assesses conditions against ILO core labour standards and Cambodian labour law. Based on this data, Brown et al. (2013) found that compliance with internationally recognized labour standards in terms of work management was positively linked to firm survival and labour productivity. Since the early 1990s, the need to create a minimum social basis for the development of trade – a basis that guarantees certain guarantees against social dumping – has led to the signing of an increasing number of free trade agreements (FTAs) that contain a labour dimension, either in the agreement itself or in a parallel agreement.

The case for the application of labour standards is strongest when it comes to fundamental human rights such as freedom of association or freedom from slavery, and when they are based on moral reasons rather than economic calculations. .

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