Core Labour Standards in Trade Agreements : From Multilateralism to Bilateralism.
AbstractAlthough discussion concerning the inclusion of core labour standards has been excluded from the Doha agenda, the question continues to be debated. In fact, on an international level, the International Labour Organization (ILO) has become increasingly active since the World Trade Organization (WTO) Singapore Ministerial Declaration. On a regional level, social clauses are now being introduced inside preferential-trade agreements. These evolutions feed the debate regarding the link between labour standards and trade. This article takes a closer look at this debate and re-assesses the traditional economic analysis, which is today more sophisticated and balanced than was the case a few years ago. Improving labour standards, in association with trade openness, might speed up development. However, governments do not necessarily choose the best way to promote social and economic development. This fact can be explained by political economic analysis. In this article, we weigh the pro- and anti-social clause arguments of interest groups both within developed and developing countries, to explain national choices concerning labour standards. The issue also concerns the stability of international trade relations. We stress that although they are excluded from multilateral arrangements, core labour standards provisions are omnipresent in bilateral or regional preferential-trade agreements. This paradox is likely to jeopardize the multilateral system. Putting aside ethical or moral considerations, we show that economic arguments can possibly allow the inclusion of a non-protectionist, realistic and reasonable trade-labour linkage. We conclude that the inclusion of such a clause in multilateral trade law is less dangerous than its non-inclusion.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Université Paris-Dauphine in its series Open Access publications from Université Paris-Dauphine with number urn:hdl:123456789/255.
Date of creation: Oct 2006
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Publication status: Published in Journal of World Trade (2006-10) v.40, p.813-836
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SOCIAL development; INTERNATIONAL Labour Organisation; ECONOMIC development; TRADE regulation; TRADE negotiation; LABOR laws & legislation;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- O19 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - International Linkages to Development; Role of International Organizations
- O16 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Financial Markets; Saving and Capital Investment; Corporate Finance and Governance
- F16 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Labor Market Interactions
- F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
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- Jean-Marc Siroën, 2012. "Core labour standards and exports," Working Papers DT/2012/18, DIAL (Développement, Institutions et Mondialisation).
- Siroën, Jean-Marc & Bazillier, Remi & Duc, Cindy & Arestoff, Florence & Granger, Clotilde, . "Les normes de travail dans les traités de libre-échange," Open Access publications from UniversitÃ© Paris-Dauphine urn:hdl:123456789/3202, Université Paris-Dauphine.
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- Jean-Marie Cardebat & Alexandru Dimitrescu, 2011. "Social Responsibility of the countries and their international trade : A gravitational approach," Larefi Working Papers 1102, Larefi, Université Bordeaux 4.
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