Working for All? New Ideas and Innovative Strategies to Enhance Economic and Social Benefits in Trade Agreements

George Washington University, Washington, DC – Thursday, 14 May 2015 - 9 am to 5 pm

In cooperation with the Canadian, Flemish and Swiss Governments, the European Commission, and the International Labour Organization (ILO) Office for Washington, DC, the Research Department of the ILO and George Washington University Institute for International Economic Policy invite you to a conference on the effectiveness of labor provisions in free trade agreements on May 14, 2015 at George Washington University in Washington, DC.

The US, Canada, and Mexico agreed to the first labor rights provisions in NAFTA, which went into force in 1993. Some 22 years later, the bulk of the world’s economies, from Albania to Zimbabwe, participate in a trade arrangement with labor rights provisions, whether through a free trade agreement, a preferential trade arrangement, or in an investment agreement. Since 2008, 41 out of 93 new trade agreements included labor provisions and over 60 per cent of the trade agreements concluded in 2013 and 2014 included labor provisions.

But there is a lot that we do not know about these agreements. Scholars, policymakers, labor rights activists, and the business community do not know if these provisions are effective in improving working conditions. Moreover, in instances where they have been effective it is unclear why and what has been the role of the different stakeholders?

How can trade agreements promote employment, enhance the link between economic and social benefits and achieve sustainable development? How can the interconnectedness between economic, social and environmental objectives be protected and promoted? Which complementary policies are key to inclusive growth and help in capitalizing opportunities from trade openness?

Attendees will discuss these questions as well as debate new ideas and strategies that may encourage labor rights, job creation and tripartite dialogue. A provisional programme of the seminar will be sent shortly. For additional information, please contact Marialaura Fino ( or Marva Corley-Coulibaly (

Participation is free, but prior registration is required. Please REGISTER ONLINE before 11 May 2015.