This international conference will compare the approaches of Canada, the European Union, the United States and Asian countries in terms of socially responsible trade policy. The Center for Studies on Integration and Globalization (CEIM) conducted a pan-Canadian research and consultation on Canada’s socially responsible trade policy in 2017 and 2018. This 2019 conference aims to internationalize the research and the dialogue by conducting a comparative analysis. The conference will be structured around two axes.
The first is concerned with Labour chapters in trade agreements. Several countries link trade agreements to implementation and compliance with international labour standards. The International Labour Organization (ILO) noted the useful effect of these chapters on work in free trade agreements (ILO 2013 and 2016). The United States, Canada and the European Union, among others, have social clauses in their trade agreements. New obligations and enforcement mechanisms will be analyzed. It should be noted that particular attention will be given to the mechanisms and provisions dedicated to the participation of civil society.
The second looks at The Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) and laws prohibiting imports of products incorporating forced labour. The industrialized countries (using the provisions of Part IV of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade – GATT) offer preferential tariff schedules to developing countries. The United States and the European Union have made access to their GSP conditional on respect for a number of fundamental workers’ rights. The symposium will provide an overview of international practices regarding the mechanisms for the inclusion of fundamental rights at work in the GSP as well as an inventory of practices concerning the limitation of imports involving forced labour.
This international conference will examine the instruments of a socially responsible trade policy, based on a comparative perspective of the approaches implemented in Canada and elsewhere in the world. It will ask the following questions: What is a socially responsible trade policy? Are the chapters of trade agreements dealing with social issues interesting levers for social progress? Are all trade agreements equal in terms of progressive agenda and social inclusion? What about CETA, the TPPGP and the CUSMA? Beyond trade agreements, are the introduction of labour obligations in Generalized Preference Systems and the prohibition of imports incorporating forced labour attractive and effective avenues to found a socially responsible trade policy?
A special conference and a roundtable highlighting the Centenary of the International Labour Organization (1919-2019) are also part of the program. In 2019, the International Labour Organization (ILO) celebrates its 100th anniversary and in this perspective, it implements seven centennial initiatives following its 2013 report Towards the 100th Anniversary of the ILO: Realities, Renewal and Tripartite Engagement . In this context, CEIM organized a roundtable and a major conference to discuss the role of the ILO in the Global Labour Governance and to determine the links between these initiatives and national trade policies and trade agreements that integrate social and ecological dimensions. The role of the ILO in the digital transition and the development of artificial intelligence will also be discussed.
Can trade and globalization be progressive? The debate will also focus on how the ILO can and must act to ensure a progressive trajectory of globalization and international economic relations.