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Social Policy Dimensions of Economic Integration: Environmental and Labour Standards


  • Anderson, Kym


Social policies are likely to have an ever-more prominent role in trade policy discussions in the years ahead for the new World Trade Organization (WTO). Many developing countries perceive the entwining of these social issues with trade policy as a threat to both their sovereignty and their economies, while significant groups in advanced economies consider it unfair, ecologically unsound, and even immoral to trade with countries adopting much lower standards than theirs. This paper examines why these issues are becoming more prominent, whether the WTO is an appropriate forum to discuss them, and how they affect developing and other economies. It concludes that (a) the direct effect on developing economies is likely to be small and for some may even be positive through improved terms of trade and/or compensatory transfer payments, but (b) there is an important indirect negative effect on them and other economies, namely, the potential erosion of the rules-based multilateral trading system that would result from an over-use of trade measures to pursue environmental or labour market objectives.

Suggested Citation

  • Anderson, Kym, 1996. "Social Policy Dimensions of Economic Integration: Environmental and Labour Standards," CEPR Discussion Papers 1440, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:1440

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Drusilla Brown & Alan Deardorff & Robert Stern, 1998. "Trade and Labor Standards," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 171-194, April.
    2. Martin Rama, 2002. "Globalization and Workers in Developing Countries," Economics Study Area Working Papers 41, East-West Center, Economics Study Area.
    3. Hillman, Arye L., 2003. "Trade Liberalization and Globalization: A Survey," CEPR Discussion Papers 3845, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Jim Rose, 2001. "Greening the WTO's Disputes Settlement Understanding: Opportunities and Risks," Treasury Working Paper Series 01/28, New Zealand Treasury.
    5. Maskus, Keith E., 1997. "Should core labor standards be imposed through international trade policy?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1817, The World Bank.

    More about this item


    Environmental Standards; GATT; Labour Standards; Trade Policy; WTO;

    JEL classification:

    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • F15 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Economic Integration


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