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Handbook of Trade Policy for Development$
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Arvid Lukauskas, Robert M. Stern, and Gianni Zanini

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199680405

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199680405.001.0001

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International Trade and Labor Standards

International Trade and Labor Standards

Chapter:
(p.922) Chapter 30 International Trade and Labor Standards
Source:
Handbook of Trade Policy for Development
Author(s):

T. N. Srinivasan

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199680405.003.0030

T.S. Srinivasan addresses the linkages between trade and labor standards and trade. He finds that the assertion that increasing competition from trade with developing countries with low labor standards threatens the prevailing higher labor standards in developed countries has weak analytical foundations and empirical support. Srinivasan notes that most countries have ratified conventions covering the ILO’s core labor standards, so expanding the definition of labor standards beyond these is not appropriate. He argues that the claim of universality and eternity for a narrow set of rights to be included in a social clause is overblown and ahistorical, as such standards are conditional on national and temporal contexts like a nation’s stage of development. He claims there are better alternatives than using trade policy interventions to prevent a “race to the bottom” in standards or the use of child labor. Finally, he questions whether trade and labor standards should be linked in the WTO.

Keywords:   Labor standards, trade, developing countries, race to the bottom, ILO, WTO, child labor, labor rights

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