Virtual Peer Review Workshop: “Trade and Decent Work”


The International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Research Department, the ILO Country Office for Brussels and Benelux, under Research Project ASSESS on “Trade, enterprises and labour markets” with the European Commission (EC)


The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognizes the role of both trade and decent work in achieving some of the Sustainable Development Goals. Specifically, Goal 17 emphasizes the need for an inclusive trading system, while Goal 8 calls, inter alia, for the promotion of decent work and economic growth. Indeed, international trade is widely considered to be an engine for economic growth and development that enhances labour markets by increasing labour productivity and creating employment opportunities. Trade has benefited workers at all skill levels in both developed and developing economies and helped to lift millions of people out of poverty. However, alongside these positive effects there are also challenges, since not all workers and firms are able to benefit from trade to the same extent. Trade creates losers as well as winners, and a sense of insecurity is often associated with the distributional nature of its effects. These effects include higher job polarization and income inequality in many advanced economies, and increased rates of informality, exploitative work and regional inequality in developing and emerging economies.
Nevertheless, many assessments of the impact of trade on labour markets do not fully take into account the qualitative dimension of employment, which encompasses workers’ rights, working conditions and other aspects of decent work.

Workshop Description

The peer review workshop discussed how trade impacts on the labour market by critically assessing the existing methodological approaches and proposing a broad set of labour market indicators, based on the ILO’s Decent Work Agenda. The indicators and methodology are also implemented in empirical analysis at the country level.

Workshop Objectives

The peer review workshop aimed at improving dialogue and share knowledge between the relevant actors, including the social partners about the labour market outcomes of trade by presenting analysis and discussing new findings on the effects of trade on the labour market based on two forthcoming ILO publications, and one case study of Mexico.


  • How can assessments of the impact of trade on firms and workers more fully capture different aspects of decent work?
  • What indicators of decent work are relevant for specific countries in the context of trade?
  • How can the indicators and methodologies be applied at the country and sectoral level?


14:10 – 14:30 Welcome and Opening Presentation

  • ILO, Richard Samans, Director, Research Department
  • EC, Lluís Prats, Head of Unit, International Issues DG EMPL, “External dimension of EU’s employment and social policies”

14:30 – 15:30 Panel I: Trade and Decent Work: Indicator Guide

(Moderator: Lieve Verboven, Director; ILO-Brussels)
  • Presentation:  Marva Corley-Coulibaly, “Trade and decent work: Indicator guide”, Research Department, ILO
  • Discussant: Marc Bacchetta,  Senior Economic Counsellor, Economics Research and Statistics Division, WTO  
  • Comments: Yorgos Altintzis, Policy Officer,  Economic and Social Policy Department, International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)
  • Comments: Farooq Ahmeed¸ Secretary-General, BEF Bangladesh
  • Q&A

15:30 – 17:00 Panel II: Trade and Decent Work: Handbook of Assessment

        Methodologies and an application to Mexico
(Moderator: EC, Lluís Prats, Head of Unit, International Issues DG EMPL)
  • Presentation: Pelin Sekerler Richiardi, “Trade and decent work: Handbook of assessment methodologies”, Research Department, ILO
  • Discussant: Jeronim Capaldo, Economic Affairs Officer, Division of Globalization and Development Strategies, UNCTAD
  • Comments: Nyasha Muchichwa, Economist Researcher at LEDRIZ (Zimbabwe)
  • Comments: Alvaro Sweinfurth, Deputy Director, CEOE Spain
  • Presentation: Juan Carlos Moreno Brid, “Trade liberalization, labor market outcomes and decent work in Mexico: The automotive and the textiles industries”, UNAM
  • Discussant: José Valentin Solis, Directorate Integration, Analysis and Investigation, INEGI
  • Q&A

17:00 – 17:15 Closing remarks

  • ILO, Richard Samans, Director, Research Department
  • EC, Lluís Prats, Head of Unit, International Issues DG EMPL