Wednesday, 27.09.2017 - Geneva, Switzerland

WTO Public Forum 2017 Working Session: Making Trade Benefit Workers

To ensure that the benefits of trade are more equally shared, special attention needs to be given to decent work in global supply or value chains (GVC).

The asymmetric power relationship in GVCs leads to downward pressure on wages and working conditions as suppliers in developing countries have little control over price-setting. Research shows that the labour cost in garments and footwear production is only a tiny fraction of the retail price yet workers are in many cases not paid the minimum wage let alone a living wage. Moreover, social clauses in trade agreements have so far had little impact on the enforcement of the ILO core labour standards, let alone other legally binding ILO conventions. More robust clauses could perhaps change this.

This Working Session aimed to discuss how to address these challenges in order to create a virtuous circle generating benefits for all, including workers in the developing world. The session was jointly organized by the FES Office for Regional Cooperation in Asia which is heading the CLS+ Project, the FES Geneva Office and FES headquarters.

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