However, opinions differ as to the effectiveness of labour provisions in trade agreements. Considered as a panacea for improving labour standards and working conditions by some, others criticise them as window dressing or even disguised protectionism. The debate is made even more complex when taking into account the different types of labour provisions that may be contained in free trade agreements.
The International Institute for Labour Studies study "The Social Dimensions of Free Trade Agreements" that will be presented at the Conference provides a detailed analysis of how labour provisions are included in trade agreements. It examines the effects these provisions may produce in terms of labour laws or the conditions under which companies operate when engaged in international trade. This research also helps to better identify the question of coherence at the multilateral level, and how this affects the world of work that has been confronted with an increasing proliferation of bilateral and regional agreements in the past years.
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9.00-9.20 Opening and introduction
- Welcome address by T. Bender, Head of Unit, External Relations, Neighbourhood Policy, Enlargement, IPA, EC DG Employment
- Opening remarks: C. Cosme, Director, Delegation for European and International Affairs, France
9.20-10.30 Session I: Social dimensions of free trade agreements(Moderator: P. L. Grandi, Adviser, Multilateral Economic Affairs Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Chile)
- Presentation of the IILS study: R. Torres, Director, IILS
- Discussant 1: C. Dannöhl, Coordinator International Affairs, BusinessEurope
- Discussant 2: J. Vogt, Deputy Director HTUR Department, International Trade Union Confederation
- Open discussion
10.30-10.45 Coffee break
10.45-11.45 Session II: Labour provisions in free trade agreements: practical effects, coherence and policy challenges(Moderator: A. Giles, Director general, Strategic Policy, Analysis and Workplace Information directorate, Labour Program, ESDC, Canada)
- M. Hencsey, Head of Unit, Trade and Sustainable Development, GSP, EC DG Trade
- P. Bouchard, Director, Bilateral and Regional Labour Affairs, ESDC, Canada
- Open discussion
11.45-12.00 Closing session
- G. Marceau, Adviser, Legal Division, WTO