International labour standards and international trade :can the two be linked?
Agulhas, Jaclyn Margaret
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In this paper I delve into the connection between trade policy and labour rights as probably one of the most controversial issues, which the international trading system is faced with today. Labour laws differ from country to country and of course it is a cause for concern where some countries have higher standards than others, it becomes problematic for these countries with high standards to compete with countries with lower standards. Even though there is a definite link between trade and labour, my argument is that incorporating labour standards into the international trading system is not the best way forward to deal with the problem of abuse of labour standards. I further investigate the two organizations at the forefront of this debate, being the WTO and the ILO. In an attempt to ascertain which of the two is the best forum to deal with the issue I further look at the relationship between these two organizations. Compliance with international labour standards is a growing concern as worldwide standards are deteriorating and nothing is being done to alleviate the problem. Accordingly, I explore the causes for the abuse of labour standards and seek to find the better alternative, by looking at the respective positions of the parties who are for and against the linkage of trade with labour standards. Here the views and concerns of the developed world are weighed up against those of the developing world and looking at possible alternatives concludes the paper.