Trade, Employment and Labour Standards

A Study of Core Workers' Rights and International Trade

Recent years have witnessed growing concern over the controversial issue of trade and labour standards. In a context of intensified international competition, alleged cases of child labour exploitation or of denial of rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining in some developing countries have been perceived by some in developed countries not only as a violation of human rights but also as unfair trade practices. On the other hand, developing countries generally respond that these concerns are unfounded and reflect disguised protectionist preoccupations. What are the relevant core labour standards in this discussion? Do countries with low levels of core labour standards gain an unfair trade advantage over countries with high standards? What are the advantages and disadvantages of possible mechanisms to promote core labour standards? This study provides the first comprehensive analysis of these questions and reviews evidence for a large number of countries throughout the world.