Racing to the bottom: International trade without a social clause

Date

2003

Authors

Chan, Anita
Ross, Robert

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Publisher

Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group

Abstract

Linking trade concessions to compliance with internationally recognised labour standards is referred to as a 'social clause'. The social clause is usually depicted as causing division between the (rich) global North and the less-industrialised global South. This article shows, however, that there is diversity of opinion among the labour movements of the global South and that contemporary labour-intensive manufacturing pits countries of the South against one another. The article raises the possibility of a race to the bottom in labour standards, where workers cannot enjoy the fruits of growth because their employers and governments hold on to the competitive advantage of cheap labour. Consider competition between China and Mexico for the North American apparel market: despite enormous employment growth apparel workers have not enjoyed wage growth and their conditions are often appalling. The race to the bottom can be prevented by South-South agreement to honour labour standards.

Description

Keywords

Keywords: bilateral agreement; international trade; labor standard; wage; Asia; China; Eurasia; Far East; Mexico [North America]; North America

Citation

Source

Third World Quarterly

Type

Journal article

Book Title

Entity type

Access Statement

License Rights

DOI

10.1080/01436590310001630044

Restricted until

2037-12-31