Committing to Labour Standards in Free Trade Agreements

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New generation free trade agreements between industrialized and developing countries are increasingly including labour provisions, as a means to improve the working conditions in developing countries and to overcome unfair cost advantages brought about by lower standards. This article looks at the emerging use of labour standards provisions in free trade agreements and the kind of commitments taken. The use of such provisions, while conferring a strong incentive for compliance, may cause overlapping (and conflicting) commitments taken in other international agreements, and remain difficult to enforce.

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