Forced Labour to be included in trade deals

WASHINGTON, May 10 — The Bush administration reached agreement on Thursday with the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and other Democrats to attach environmental and worker protections in several pending trade accords. The unusual agreement, which came after weeks of negotiations, would guarantee workers the right to organize, ban child labor and prohibit forced labor in trading-partner countries. It would also require trading partners to enforce environmental laws and comply with several international environmental agreements. It has immediate importance for four countries — Colombia, Panama, Peru and South Korea — that are seeking to enter into trade pacts with the United States. But officials in Washington predicted that the agreement’s effect would go beyond those countries and could be a template for all trade deals, including a possible worldwide accord. (The New York Times, Steven R. Weisman)

News | 09 May 2007