Labor Enforcement Issues in U.S. FTAs
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Cimino-Isaacs, Catherine D.
[Excerpt] Labor provisions in free trade agreements (FTAs)—both in the U.S. and globally—were first included in the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation (NAALC), the side agreement to the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Since then provisions have evolved from commitments not just to enforce a country’s own domestic labor laws, but also to adopt and enforce core labor principles of the International Labor Organization (ILO). As mandated by Congress through trade promotion authority (TPA), recent U.S. FTAs also subject labor chapters to the same dispute settlement procedures as all other obligations. Some Members view strong worker rights provisions in U.S. FTAs as an important issue and they have raised concerns over FTA partner compliance with labor commitments and the U.S. record of enforcement. These issues were a part of the debate over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and in the NAFTA renegotiation.
free trade agreements; FTAs; labor issues; enforcement