Tuesday, August 11, 2009


IWS Documented News Service
Institute for Workplace Studies----------------- Professor Samuel B. Bacharach
School of Industrial & Labor Relations
-------- Director, Institute for Workplace Studies
Cornell University
16 East 34th Street, 4th floor
---------------------- Stuart Basefsky
New York, NY 10016
-------------------------------Director, IWS News Bureau

Government Accountability Office (GAO)

International Trade: Four Free Trade Agreements GAO Reviewed Have Resulted in Commercial Benefits, but Challenges on Labor and Environment Remain
GAO-09-439,  July 10, 2009 [online 10 August 2009]
[full-text, 154 pages]

What GAO Found
The four selected FTAs have largely accomplished the U.S. objectives of
achieving better access to markets and strengthening trade rules, and have
resulted in increased trade, as summarized in the table. While varying in
details, the FTAs have all eliminated import taxes, lowered obstacles to U.S.
services such as banking, increased protection of U.S. intellectual property
rights abroad, and strengthened rules to ensure government fairness and
transparency. Overall merchandise trade between the United States and
partner countries has substantially grown, with increases ranging from 42
percent to 259 percent. Services trade, foreign direct investment, and U.S.
affiliate sales in the largest partners also rose.

FTA negotiations spurred some labor reforms in each of the selected partners,
according to U.S. and partner officials, but progress has been uneven and U.S.
engagement minimal.
An example cited was Morocco's enactment of a longstalled
overhaul of its labor code. However, partners reported that
enforcement of labor laws continues to be a challenge, and some significant
labor abuses have emerged. In the FTAs we examined, Labor provided
minimal oversight and did not use information it had on partner weaknesses
to establish remedial plans or work with partners on improvement.

The selected partners have improved their environmental laws and made
other progress, such as establishment of an environmental ministry and a 400-
strong environmental law enforcement force in Jordan, according to U.S. and
foreign officials. However, partner officials report that enforcement remains a
challenge, and U.S. assistance has been limited. Elements needed for assuring
partner progress remain absent. Notably, USTR's lack of compliance plans
and sporadic monitoring, State's lax management of environmental projects,
and U.S. agencies' inaction to translate environmental commitments into
reliable funding all limited efforts to promote progress.


This information is provided to subscribers, friends, faculty, students and alumni of the School of Industrial & Labor Relations (ILR). It is a service of the Institute for Workplace Studies (IWS) in New York City. Stuart Basefsky is responsible for the selection of the contents which is intended to keep researchers, companies, workers, and governments aware of the latest information related to ILR disciplines as it becomes available for the purposes of research, understanding and debate. The content does not reflect the opinions or positions of Cornell University, the School of Industrial & Labor Relations, or that of Mr. Basefsky and should not be construed as such. The service is unique in that it provides the original source documentation, via links, behind the news and research of the day. Use of the information provided is unrestricted. However, it is requested that users acknowledge that the information was found via the IWS Documented News Service.

Stuart Basefsky                   
Director, IWS News Bureau                
Institute for Workplace Studies 
Cornell/ILR School                        
16 E. 34th Street, 4th Floor             
New York, NY 10016                        
Telephone: (607) 255-2703                
Fax: (607) 255-9641                       
E-mail: smb6@cornell.edu                  

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