ILO Research Seminar

Effects of Trade on the Labour Market

The International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Research Department, the ILO Country Office for Mexico and Cuba and the European Commission (EC) are jointly organizing a research seminar and tripartite workshop in Mexico City over 1.5 days. The two events, which will take place on 27-28th February 2020, are within the framework of the project “Trade, enterprises and labour markets: diagnostic and firm level assessment”. The aim of the project is to inform on polices to anticipate and mitigate the labour market impacts of trade at the macro and enterprise level through a better understanding of the methodologies, frameworks and indicators used to assess impacts. In doing so, the project will go beyond quantitative metrics of the labour markets such as employment and productivity and analysis labour rights and working conditions.

The Research Seminar, which will take place on February 27th will bring together academics in Mexico working on research related to the labour market effects of trade. The debate and presentations will be structured around labour market outcomes at the macro-economic and micro-economic (enterprise) level, as well as institutional and regulatory challenges and approaches to address the distributional effects of trade. In addition, the ILO Research Department will present the preliminary findings of a study assessing methodological frameworks and proposing additional indicators to better understand the qualitative dimension of trade on the labour market. The target audience for this seminar includes academics, technical experts, policy-makers, tripartite constituents and international organizations.


9:00-9:30 Registration

9:30-10:00 Welcome and Opening Remarks

  • Gerardina González Marroquín, Director, ILO Country Office for Mexico and Cuba
  • Lluís Prats, Head of Unit International Affairs, Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, European Commission
  • Alejandro Encinas Nájera, Head of the Labour Policy Unit and Institutional Relations, Ministry of Labour
  • Soledad Aragón Martínez, Secretary of Labour and Employment Creation of Mexico City

10:00-11:15 Session I: Trade and labour market challenges at the macro level

Moderator: Roberto Gerhard Tuma, Director of Research and Statistics, Ministry of Labour

International trade has contributed to economic growth and brought many workers into the global market, but there are distributional effects. These effects have been associated with rising inequality, informality and non-standard forms of employment. Questions of how to distribute more evenly the benefits of trade both within and between sectors are of paramount importance. This requires an approach that is more human-centered, with a better understanding of the decent work outcomes of globalization and the institutions needed to support more inclusive outcomes firms and workers.
  • Globalization and labour markets: A Human-Centered Approach, Marva Corley-Coulibaly, ILO
  • Trade and Inequality, Carlos A. Ibarra, UDLAP
  • Trade policy and development, Juan Carlos Moreno Brid, UNAM
  • Q&A
  • Wrap-up and key considerations, Moderator

11:15-11:45 Coffee break

11:45 - 12:45 Session II: Trade and labour market outcomes: do firm characteristics matter? 

Moderator: José Valentin Solis, Directorate Integration, Analysis and Investigation, INEGI

While the assessment of the effects of trade is often done at the aggregate level, there are both winners and losers within countries and sectors. Indeed, going beyond country and sector specificities, firm and worker characteristics play an important role in determining the losers and winners of globalization. In the last few decades, the importance of such differences has been making its way to the literature thanks to the development of more comprehensive methodologies and greater availability of data. Yet, the study of their impact on the labour market is limited, focusing mostly on employment and wages. This session discusses how the effects of trade on firms with different characteristics and their workers can be evaluated and how a broader range of labour market indicators can be taken into account.  
  • Firm heterogeneity and trade: implications for the labour market, Pelin Sekerler Richiardi, ILO
  • Multinational Enterprises in Mexico: employment and working conditions, Jorge Carrillo Viveros, El Colegio de la Frontera Norte
  • Q&A
  • Wrap-up and key considerations, Moderator

12:45-13:30 Keynote Speech

  • Nora Lustig, University of Tulan
Moderator: Paolo Caridi, European Union Delegation, Mexico
  • Q & A

13:30-14:45 Lunch

14:45:-16:00 Session III: Towards a fairer distribution of the gains from trade

Moderator: Helmut Schwarzer, ILO Country Office for Mexico and Cuba

Since the period of liberalization started in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s Mexico faced a social, political, institutional and economic transformation accompanying this process. This session will focus on the institutional and legal changes that trade liberalization in particular, meant for workers and enterprises and how these changes have been evolving over time. Some of the questions that the session will attempt to answer include: Historically, what have been the challenges posed by trade liberalization and more specifically trade agreements to the effective implementation of labour standards and functioning of labour institutions? What do we know about the relationship between labour reforms and trade? How are new labour provisions in trade agreements shaping the labour relations environment and legal reforms and institutions? What more could be done to better support the implementation of the labour reforms and effective functioning of labour institutions?
  • Labour provisions in trade agreements: a comparative perspective, Elizabeth Echeverría Manrique, ILO
  • The EU’s approach towards promoting decent work/external dimension of EU’s employment and social policies, Ana Vukosavljevic, DG EMPL, European Commission
  • Labour reforms in Mexico, challenges and opportunities: Graciela Bensusán, UAM
  • Q&A
  • Wrap-up and key considerations

16:00-16:15 Closing Remarks

  • Gerardina González Marroquín, Director, ILO Country Office for Mexico and Cuba
  • Lluís Prats, Head of Unit International Affairs, Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, European Commission