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Volume 2, Number 2, March 2008

27 février 2008, par Gouvernance Globale du Travail (GGT)

Volume 2, Number 2, March 2008

In this Virtual Roundtable Newsletter edition

Third phase of the Global Labour Governance project

Virtual Roundtable 2008 : "humanizing trade" through trade agreements ?

Humanizing Trade Conference

Roundtable on "Peru and the free trade agreements with the United States and Canada"

Third phase of the Global Labour Governance project

The Centre d’études sur l’intégration et la mondialisation (CEIM) has been mandated by Human Resources and Social Development Canada to operate the third phase of the Global Labour Governance (GLG) project, whose activities are aimed at maintaining a dialogue between the different stakeholders in the academic community and the world of labour, with a special focus on the links between trade and labour. The CEIM and its partners will therefore continue to add to the Directory on Global Labour Governance during the third phase of the GLG project.

This phase includes several public activities, such as a roundtable on Peru and the free trade agreements with the United States and Canada, which was held on 30 January. A virtual roundtable and an international conference will finish off these public activities, with the participation of representatives from the public, academic and private sectors as well as from civil society.

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Virtual Roundtable 2008 : "humanizing trade" through trade agreements ?

The expression "humanizing trade" is taken from an article by journalist Éric Desrosiers, published on 4 February in the Montreal newspaper Le Devoir.

GLG Project sponsors an on-line discussion on how governments can and should use trade agreements to promote labour rights abroad, while maintaining standards at home. 

From 7 March 2008, Susan Ariel Aaronson (George Washington University) and Michèle Rioux (Université du Québec à Montréal) will moderate an online discussion, focusing specifically on : 

1. Are trade agreements an effective tool to promote labor rights ?
2. Are the many approaches to trade agreements sending confusing signals to developing country policymakers about how to promote labour rights and which labour rights are important ?
3. Do we need to find a uniform approach ? Is such a uniform approach possible, given the unique political circumstances of each country and constraints that limit international cooperation in this domain ?
 
You can participate online starting March 7th, 2008, using the "Reply to this article" button. We look forward to your comments.

Participate in the debate


Humanizing Trade Conference

The CEIM will host the international conference on Humanizing Trade, on 7 and 8 April. The title of the conference is taken from an article by Éric Desrosiers in the Montreal newspaper Le Devoir.

Many governments have recently approved bilateral and/or regional trade agreements designed to help their partner governments improve labor rights. Most of these trade agreements include core labor standards delineated in the ILO Declaration. However, each government has adopted different strategies to advance labor rights abroad, while maintaining strong labor standards at home. For instance, while Canada’s recent agreements include provisions governing migrant workers, the U.S. does not include such provisions. Moreover, while the U.S. and Canadian governments have made labor right provisions actionable under dispute settlement, the EU has not.

Trade agreement partners may find it difficult to respond effectively to these different approaches ; as they may send confusing signals. As all of the attendees want to maintain labor rights at home and advance these rights abroad, we hope to stimulate debate among participants on a shared approach. The conference organizers have invited eminent scholars, trade negotiators, government officials, representatives of, international organizations, enterprises and trade unions as well as the general public to begin that discussion.
Specifically, participants will address :

  • How do the major trading nations link trade and labor rights ? Do their strategies bolster the ILO ? Are these strategies effective ?
  • Are there ways to foster greater convergence among different approaches ? Are there ways that governments can collaborate on capacity building, as example ?
  • What role should CSR, capacity building, and trade adjustment assistance programs play in supporting these labor rights provisions ? 

How will policymakers link labor rights and trade in the future ? What role will the WTO, the private sector, the ILO and development organizations play in improving labor rights governance in the future ?

If you would like to present a communication, paper or commentary during the conference, please send your proposal to ceim@uqam.ca before 14 March 2008 (c/o Lysanne Picard ; Subject : International conference : Humanizing Trade).

Aide-mémoire
Humanizing Trade Conference
April 7th, 2008, 1:00 PM to 6:00 PM
April 8th, 2008, 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM
Hotel Omni, 1050, Sherbrooke Street West, Montréal
Preliminary Program

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Roundtable on "Peru and the free trade agreements with the United States and Canada"

On 30 January, more than 50 people participated in the first roundtable of the year on the free trade agreements between Peru and the United States and Canada. The four speakers were : Miguel Gamarra, vice-consul and general coordinator at the Peruvian consulate ; Sylvain Zini, research assistant at the CEIM ; Pierre Bouchard, director of the Office for Inter-American Labour Cooperation ; and Jean-Paul Calero, financial adviser.

Following an overview of the economic situation, Mr. Gamarra discussed the trade policy as well as the reasons urging Peru to form closer ties with both the United States and Canada. In his presentation, Mr. Zini laid special emphasis on the fact that the trade agreement with the United States represents a turning point. He underlined the fact that the debate no longer really divides free traders and protectionists, but rather it contrasts two lines of thought among free traders : on the one hand there are the progressives, who demand that the agreements incorporate labour and environmental standards and entail support programmes for workers, and on the other hand there are those who advocate a traditional free market approach and want to limit the agreements to trade issues only. The agreement with Peru shows that the scales now tilt in favour of the former, with the Democrats having imposed their views on the Presidency, according to Mr. Zini. Mr. Bouchard went on to present the chapter on labour in the Canada-Peru free trade agreement, which he compared with the American agreement. According to Mr. Bouchard, the agreement also represents a turning point in Canadian trade policy because, as in the case of the United States, labour is part of the agreement and the labour provisions are subject to the dispute settlement mechanism, as are all other provisions in the agreement. Mr. Bouchard also emphasized the importance that Canada attaches to capacity building. He concluded by illustrating that the agreement with Canada is significantly better than the American agreement in terms of labour (the Canadian agreements will only be available as of May). Finally, Mr. Calero presented his view of the future of Peru’s trade policy. He also spoke of the new horizons opened by the two agreements in terms of export and growth, nevertheless laying emphasis on the adjustments which may prove difficult in certain sectors, as well as on what he feels is Peru’s overly strong dependency on the primary sector. The presentations were followed by many questions. Some were centred on the new labour provisions in the two agreements, while others focused on the issue of the informal, agricultural and mining sectors, and others still on Peru’s economic perspectives. All in all, it was an excellent debate.

Several points discussed during this roundtable have been examined in the article by Christian Deblock and Sylvain Zini, L’accord de libre-échange États-Unis/Pérou et les normes du travail (The United States/Peru Free Trade Agreement and Labour Standards). The different stakeholders and researchers who are interested in the links between trade and labour are invited to contribute to the debate in the Virtual Roundtable on GLG.

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Fell free to contact us for information regarding GLG Project, its Repertoire, Virtual Rountable and other activities.

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