Labour rights in the Free Trade Agreement between Chile and the United States | Labour Law | International Labour Organization

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The Free Trade Agreement between Chile and the United States came into force on 1 January 2004. This paper analyses the FTA agreement to understand what it means for both parties and the potential consequences on trade, worker rights and labour laws in both countries. It highlights the importance of protecting this agreement. This paper is also available in Spanish language.
  Oxfam Research Collection   Labour rights in the free trade agreement between Chile and the United States August 2004 Diego Lopez Oxfam Oxfam GB Research Collection  © Oxfam GB, 2009  47   L ABOUR   RIGHTS   IN   THE   FREE   TRADEAGREEMENT   BETWEEN  C HILE   AND   THEUNITED   STATES  48 “All stipulations regarding labour regulations in thementioned (free trade ) agreements, should be judgedby taking into account whether they represent aserious attempt to improve working conditions andthe lives of workers or if, on the contrary, theirobjectives are protectionist and thus detrimental tothe welfare of workers.” 1 “The World Trade Organisation (WTO) mustrecognise that trade regulations are subordinate tointernational agreements on human and labourrights, and that trade sanctions supported by the ILO(...) cannot be questioned with the argument thatthey are unacceptable barriers to trade according toWTO rules.” 2 1 Oxfam – Trading away our rights. Female temporary workers in globalised production chains (Más por menos. El trabajo precario de las mujeres en las cadenas de producción globalizadas) , 2004,p. 41. 2 Ibid, p. 87.  49 P RESENTATION  This document analyses those obligations related to labour matterswhich are established by the Free Trade Agreement signed betweenChile and the United States. These are commitments that demandadequate legislative protection of working rights considered essentialby the Agreement so as to obtain fair and transparent trade, obligingthe Parties to abstain from debilitating local laws that protect suchrights, and including the obligation to guarantee that internal lawsprotecting such rights are effectively adhered to. Even though theAgreement does not provide for any instruments designed to strengthenthe judicial efficiency of those labour rights established by the internallegislation of both countries, non-enforcement of such Agreementobligations by one or other Party may result in the enactment of established dispute procedures, the adoption of concrete measures tocorrect legislative non-enforcement and, if necessary, the applicationof trade sanctions.Moreover, it can be stated that according to the laws of the judicialbodies of both countries, if one of the states party to the Agreementdoes not fulfil one or other of its labour commitments, leading toactions of unfair competition in bilateral trade, any individual or legalentity that has suffered the negative consequences of such unlawfulcompetition may claim damages and losses from the State concerned,which has either negligently or deceitfully not fulfilled the obligationsset down in the Agreement.With a use that may ultimately be favourable to labour rights, theapplication of the FTA means that export businesses in Chile willbecome more vulnerable to accusations of non-enforcement of labourregulations. In addition, the responsibility of the State to protect basiclabour rights, and to affectively enforce its labour legislation, will nowform part of its trading credibility, and may operate as an instrument toprevent any eventual judicial demands for damages caused by suchunfair competition.
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