GENEVA (ILO News) – Full and productive employment must become a key objective of the international trading system if open markets are to translate into more and better jobs, said the Executive Director of the ILO’s Employment Sector, Mr. José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs in a statement delivered at the UNCTAD XIII Panel on Reflections on the international trading system and inclusive development.
When countries liberalize trade without introducing policies to cushion the impact on workers and companies, we have “destructive destruction”, he said. In other words, a climate in which some enterprises are forced to close down, investment dries out, research and upgrading declines, and jobs are lost.
Mr. Salazar was speaking at the XIII session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) that is underway in Doha from 21 to 26 April 2012.
Many of the successful examples of export growth are no simple stories of trade liberalization, but rather more complex multidimensional stories where several ingredients come into play, he said.
Countries can adopt a number of measures to improve the employment outcome of trade. First, they must pay more attention to promoting full and productive employment and productive capacities. Second, export and investment promotion policies must go hand in hand with industrial policies. Third, trade reforms have to be introduced gradually so that the labour markets have time to adapt.
“The lack of a positive employment impact is the main reason why trade liberalization has often translated into increased inequalities”, said the ILO’s Executive Director for Employment. “If we want to achieve a fairer and more inclusive globalization, then open trade and social protection should be considered as complementary policies”.
Investing in people and infrastructure is another very important element, especially when it comes to training workers and upgrading their skills. This last idea was highlighted in a separate statement addressed by the ILO Director-General Juan Somavia to the conference.
“Ensuring that enterprises find the skilled workforce they need and ensuring that workers find jobs that correspond to their skills is one of the most pressing issues to address in the current situation of high unemployment that particularly hits the young”, read the statement by Mr. Somavia. “Reducing this mismatch is crucial for enterprises and economies to grow and for the young to find jobs”.