This article draws on a study financed by the European Commission Directorate-General for Employment, The use, scope and effectiveness of labour and social provisions and sustainable development aspects in bilateral and regional free trade agreements (2008). The author wishes to acknowledge the contributions to that study made by Florence Arestoff-Izzo, Rémi Bazillier, Damien Cremaschi, Cindy Duc and Clotilde Granger.
Labour provisions in preferential trade agreements: Current practice and outlook
Article first published online: 26 MAR 2013
Copyright © The author 2013 Journal compilation © International Labour Organization 2013
International Labour Review
Volume 152, Issue 1, pages 85–106, March 2013
How to Cite
SIROËN, J.-M. (2013), Labour provisions in preferential trade agreements: Current practice and outlook. International Labour Review, 152: 85–106. doi: 10.1111/j.1564-913X.2013.00170.x
Responsibility for opinions expressed in signed articles rests solely with their authors, and publication does not constitute an endorsement by the ILO.
- Issue published online: 26 MAR 2013
- Article first published online: 26 MAR 2013
- free trade;
- trade agreement;
- international agreement;
- decent work;
- social implication;
- ILO role
While the WTO and Doha Development Round do not deal with labour issues – they leave this to the ILO – the main countries that conclude free trade agreements incorporate labour provisions, which vary in terms of stringency. Sanctions are rarely used, and fears that “social clauses” would serve protectionist purposes have proved to be unfounded. Labour provisions are designed to meet a variety of sometimes conflicting goals, by means of different mechanisms aimed at improving labour practices and promoting Decent Work; the author makes a number of suggestions in this regard.