The Labour Rights Agenda in Free Trade Agreements – The Journal of World Investment & Trade – article

The Labour Rights Agenda in Free Trade Agreements

James Harrison | The Journal of World Investment & Trade

2019-11-05

This article explores the implications of the proliferation of labour provisions in free trade agreements (FTAs) in recent years. It reviews a relatively new form of empirical scholarship on the effectiveness of US and EU labour provisions. In doing so, it helps to identify a large gap between, on the one hand, the rhetoric of policymakers on the importance of such provisions and, on the other, the reality of what they achieve in practice. Reform efforts on both sides of the Atlantic are then examined to find that these also contain major deficiencies. The article therefore asks whether the ineffectiveness of the labour rights agenda in FTAs should be seen as part of a burgeoning class critique of trade policy. In the current political climate, it also suggests that the deficiencies identified, and how they should be resolved, require far greater engagement from both mainstream academia and trade policy communities.

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