The meeting is at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center


Top 10 Reasons to Oppose the World Trade Organization? Criticism, yes … misinformation, no!

More incorrect facts about the WTO found on websites: 

3. ‘The WTO tramples over labor and human rights’

The accusation

“The WTO has refused to address the impacts of free trade on labor rights [1], despite that fact that countries that actively enforce labor rights are disadvantaged by countries that consistently violate international labor conventions. Many developing countries, such as Mexico, contend that labor standards constitute a "barrier to free trade" [2] for countries whose competitive advantage in the global economy is cheap labor. Potential solutions to labor and human rights abuses are blocked by the WTO, which has ruled that it is: 1) illegal for a government to ban a product based on the way it is produced (i.e. with child labor) [3]; and 2) governments cannot take into account the behavior of companies that do business with vicious dictatorships such as Burma [4].

The reality

1. The “WTO” has not refused to address this issue. At their first ministerial meeting (Singapore, 1996), WTO members reaffirmed their commitment to core labour standards.

The WTO’s developing-country members resist including labour standards in WTO rules because: (a) they see it as a guise for protectionism in developed-country markets, a smokescreen for undermining the comparative advantage of lower-wage developing countries; and (b) they argue that better working conditions and improved labour rights arise through economic growth — sanctions imposed against countries with lower labour standards would merely perpetuate poverty and delay improvements in workplace standards.

In addition, to suggest that developed countries are handicapped because they enforce labour standards ignores the fact that developed countries are highly successful in exporting — they have by far the largest share of export markets.

2. No one has argued in the WTO that “labour standards constitute a ‘barrier to free trade’ ”.

3. The WTO has never ruled on child labour because the issue has never come up for a ruling. Countries’ efforts to deal with child labour problems have never been challenged in the WTO.

4. The WTO made no such ruling over trade with Myanmar (Burma). The WTO agreements (GATT Article 21) say countries have the right to follow UN decisions, which was the case when sanctions were imposed against South Africa under apartheid.

Find out more on the WTO and labour standards here.