Labor Standards and the Free Trade Area of the Americas
28 Pages Posted: 9 Oct 2003
Date Written: July 2003
Relatively little controversy surrounds three of the four core labor standards - forced labor, discrimination, and child labor. But the right to associate and organize freely and to bargain collectively is more controversial. And the use of trade sanctions to enforce labor standards is most divisive of all. In the context of trade negotiations, attention to labor issues can lower adjustment costs, slow a race to the bottom from the bottom, among developing countries themselves, and increase political support for trade agreements in developed countries. Elliott suggests using a parallel track to negotiate labor issues and link progress in those negotiations more closely to the trade negotiations. She concludes that nothing is to be gained by workers and labor activists keeping sanctions to enforce standards in trade agreements as the focus of their demands. Instead, they should ratchet up the pressure on governments to adopt concrete plans of action for raising labor standards and to finance implementation of those plans.
JEL Classification: F13, J80
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation