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Could improving the working conditions of labourers in developing countries create new markets and stimulate world economic growth? The Obama administration believes that a new partnership with eight Pacific Rim countries, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), will promote trade and investment. Currently the TPP consists of Australia, Chile, Brunei, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam, and if these negotiations go through then they will include other Pacific Rim countries.

Yet based on empirical evidence from other free trade agreements, such agreements do little for workers and businesses in all partner countries. Out of the 14 free trade agreements the US has, there is no clear evidence whether these agreements, such as NAFTA, has created or eliminated jobs.

The goal of such agreement should be to encourage fair labour standards, so that countries like the US can compete with developing countries when it comes to labour work and wages. Shrinking the wage gap and working conditions gap will be key to creating a level playing field for all countries and create positive social change.

It will be interesting to see what the outcome of these negotiations are and what sort of impact they will have as the demand for fair trade continues to increase globally. Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joel-richard-paul/fair-wages-for-fair-trade_b_1944379.html.

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