Labour standards increasingly included in bilateral and regional free trade agreements

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Females workers at the Gbarnga Peace Hub, Gbarnga Bong County, Liberia.
UNMIL Photo/ Emmanuel Tobey.

The number of trade agreements that include labour provisions has increased significantly over the past two decades, according to a new report by the International Labour Organization (ILO).

The report on the Social Dimensions of Free Trade Agreements says there has been a substantial growth in the number of trade agreements featuring labour-related measures since the mid-1990s, including more 'South-South agreements' between developing countries.

In total, there were 58 agreements with labour provisions in June 2013 – almost a quarter of the total 248 trade agreements currently in force. These have included provisions on minimum working conditions, enforcement of national labour laws, as well as monitoring and enforcing labour standards.

Director, in charge of the ILO Research Department Raymond Torres, says "The increasing number of trade agreements which include provisions with respect to labour standards is a reflection of the growing awareness that trade liberalization, important as it is, should go hand-in-hand with progress on the employment and social front."

The report says that none of the agreements studied show signs of protectionism by the governments concerned.

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration:  1’05″

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