20 J. World Trade L. 61 (1986)
Fair Labor Standards and International Trade

handle is hein.kluwer/jwt0020 and id is 77 raw text is: Fair Labor Standards and
International Trade
STEVE CHARNOVITZ
WITHOUT     FANFARE, the United States has established new labor
standards for less developed countries wanting to qualify for trade
preferences. While there were already a few labor protections in U.S. trade
law and agreements, the recent legislation marks the first time that
American policy has sought to protect a comprehensive range of worker
rights. Over the next several years, the new standards could lead to far-
reaching changes in trade practices and development patterns.
The first of the two labor standards appeared in the 1983 Caribbean
Basin Initiative (CBI), a program that eliminates tariffs on most products
from the Caribbean region. Under the CBI, the President determines the
eligibility of beneficiary countries based upon a set of 18 criteria, including
the degree to which workers are afforded reasonable workplace con-
ditions and enjoy the right to organize and bargain collectively.' The
second and tougher standard came in the 1984 extension of the
Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), a program that eliminates
tariffs on most products from 140 developing nations. In order to retain
their GSP eligibility, countries are required to take steps to afford inter-
nationally recognized worker rights. These rights include the formation
of unions and acceptable conditions of work.2
To some observers, the U.S. interest in boosting foreign unions may
seem paradoxical. Why at a time of seemingly waning strength and
influence of American unions would U.S. trade policy be modified to give
active support to labor in other countries? There are two reasons. First,
there has been a growing public concern about U.S. abetment of foreign
human rights violations. It is one thing to know that conditions in the less
developed countries (LDCs) are bad, but quite another to learn that some
I Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act (P.L. 98-67), Sec. 212(c) (8).
2 Trade and Tariff Act of 1984 (P.L. 98-573), Sec. 503.
Sieve Charnovitz is an International Relations Officer at the U. S. Department of Labor. He recently served on the
staff of U.S. House Majority Leader Jim Wright as a Congressional Fellow sponsored by the American Political
Science Association. The views expressed in the article are solely those of the author.
61
Copyright  2007 by Kluwer Law International. All rights reserved.
No claim asserted to original government works.

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