IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Do Labour Standards have a Role in International Trade?: Private Standards, Preferential Trade Agreements or the WTO


  • Bakhshi, Samira
  • Kerr, William A.


It is now common for producers (economic protectionism), consumers and social advocates (humanitarian motives) to urge for the inclusion of labour standards in international trade agreements. In spite of this, there has been little empirical work to determine whether low labour standards lead to trade distortions. This paper provides some empirical evidence pertaining to this question. Consumer groups, social advocates and traditional vested interests such as labour unions have attempted to have labour standards included in WTO disciplines. In the absence of success at the WTO, the relationship between labour standards and international trade has, however, been evolving in the areas of private standards and preferential trade agreements. Given the role that preferential trade agreements sometimes take in establishing future directions in multilateral trade agreements and the increasing dissatisfaction with the WTO’s treatment of consumer issues in general, in the future labour standards may well work their way into multilateral trade agreements. The empirical results show that low labour standards lead to trade distortions. These effects appear to be small. Further research in this area is suggested.

Suggested Citation

  • Bakhshi, Samira & Kerr, William A., 2009. "Do Labour Standards have a Role in International Trade?: Private Standards, Preferential Trade Agreements or the WTO," Working Papers 90883, Canadian Agricultural Trade Policy Research Network.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:catpwp:90883

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sangeeta Khorana & Nicholas Perdikis & May T. Yeung & William A. Kerr, 2010. "Bilateral Trade Agreements in the Era of Globalization," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 13719.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ags:catpwp:90883. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (AgEcon Search). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.