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Trade Imbalance
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  • 12 tables
  • Page extent: 348 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.68 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 330
  • Dewey version: 22
  • LC Classification: K3240 .A27 2007
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Human rights--Economic aspects
    • International trade--Social aspects
    • Foreign trade regulation--Social aspects
    • Social responsibility of business

Library of Congress Record

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 (ISBN-13: 9780521872560)

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Trade is controversial; around the world many people believe that trade agreements, even trade per se, undermine particular human rights such as labor rights or access to affordable medicine (the right to health). But trade and trade agreements can also advance human rights, directly or indirectly. In fact, some countries use trade policies to advance specific human rights such as labor rights or property rights. But in almost every country policymakers struggle to achieve both goals. Trade and human rights are out of balance.

   Although scholars, policymakers, and activists have long debated the relationship between trade and human rights, in truth we know very little about this relationship. This book aims to provide readers with greater insights into the relationship between human rights and trade. The authors use stories about AIDS, frogs, slavery, and other topics to discuss what policymakers do to promote human rights as they seek to expand trade. Second, the book includes the first study of how South Africa, Brazil, the United States, and the European Union coordinate trade and human rights objectives and resolve conflicts. It also looks at how human rights issues are seeping into the WTO. Finally, it provides suggestions to policymakers for making their trade and human rights policies more coherent and balanced.

Susan Ariel Aaronson is Research Associate Professor of International Affairs at the Elliott School of International Affairs and Adjunct Associate Professor at the Business School, George Washington University. She also works as a consultant for various organizations including the ILO, the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, Free the Slaves, and the U.S. government and private companies. Aaronson is the author of five books and numerous articles on trade, investment, development, human rights, and global corporate social responsibility issues. She has received numerous grants for her research from foundations such as the Ford, UN, Rockefeller, and Levi-Strauss Foundations. Aaronson is a frequent speaker on globalization issues and has appeared on CNN, the BBC, and PBS. From 1995 to 1999, she was a commentator for All Things Considered, Marketplace, and Morning Edition. Aaronson is a pro bono consultant to John Ruggie, the UN Special Representative on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations, and she serves on the advisory board of

Jamie M. Zimmerman is the Associate Director of the Global Assets Project, part of the Asset Building Program at the New America Foundation, which is working to develop vision and direction for the advancement of savings and asset-building in the developed and developing world. She previously worked with Dr. Aaronson as the Associate Director of Globalization Studies at the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise of the University of North Carolina. She managed the field research for the developing country case studies for the book (Brazil, India, and South Africa). With Dr. Aaronson, she published a number of articles and op-eds in such publications as YaleGlobal and Human Rights Quarterly. Zimmerman completed her master’s degree in international political economy and international development from the Patterson School at the University of Kentucky in 2003. She also holds a B.A. in foreign languages and international economics from the same university.

Trade Imbalance: The Struggle
to Weigh Human Rights
Concerns in Trade

Business School,
George Washington University
Elliott School of International Affairs

Senior Advisor, Global Assets Program,
New America Foundation

Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape Town, Singapore, São Paulo, Delhi

Cambridge University Press
32 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10013–2473, USA
Information on this title:

© Susan Ariel Aaronson, Jamie M. Zimmerman 2008

This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception
and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements,
no reproduction of any part may take place without
the written permission of Cambridge University Press.

First published 2008

Printed in the United States of America

A catalog record for this publication is available from the British Library.

Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data

Aaronson, Susan A.
Trade imbalance : the struggle to weigh human rights concerns in trade policymaking /
Susan Ariel Aaronson, Jamie M. Zimmerman.
p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-0-521-87256-0 (hardback) – ISBN 978-0-521-69420-9 (pbk.)
1. Human rights – Economic aspects. 2. International trade – Social aspects
3. Foreign trade regulation – Social aspects. 4. Social responsibility of business.
I. Zimmerman, Jamie M. II. Title.
K3240.A27  2007
330–dc22      2007007719

ISBN 978-0-521-87256-0 hardback
ISBN 978-0-521-69420-9 paperback

Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for
the persistence or accuracy of URLs for external or
third-party Internet Web sites referred to in this publication
and does not guarantee that any content on such
Web sites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.


Abbreviations page vii
Acknowledgments ix
1   Introduction: The Struggle to Weigh Human Rights in Trade Policymaking 1
2   The World Trade Organization and Human Rights: Providing Some Power to the People Some of the Time 32
3   South Africa: In the “Rainbow Nation” Trade and Human Rights Are Anything but Black-and-White 64
4   Brazil: Creating New Rules of the Road 93
5   The European Union: The Behemoth Is Not a Dinosaur 121
6   The United States: At Cross Purposes – Americans at the Intersection of Trade and Human Rights 150
7   Conclusion: How to Right the Trade Imbalance 186
Appendix: Interviews for Righting Trade, 2005–2007 209
Notes 217
Index 329


ACP Africa, Caribbean, and Pacific Countries (EU)
AFL–CIO American Federation of Labor, Congress of Industrial Organizations
ANC African National Congress (South Africa)
BEE Black Economic Empowerment Act (South Africa)
CAP Common Agricultural Policy (EU)
CBD Convention on Biodiversity
COSATU Congress of South African Trade Unions
CIRI Cingranelli–Richards Human Rights Data Set
CSR Corporate Social Responsibility
DR–CAFTA Dominican Republic/Central American Free Trade Agreement (also known as CAFTA-DR)
EC European Community
EPZ Export processing zones
EU European Union
FTA Free Trade Agreement
FTAA Free Trade Agreement of the Americas
GATT General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade
GDP Gross domestic product
GSP Generalized System of Preferences
IPR Intellectual property rights
ITO International Trade Organization
LDC Least developed country
MERCOSUR Common Market of the South; a trade agreement among Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela
MFN Most favored nation (also known as normal trade relations in the United States)
NAFTA North American Free Trade Agreement (Canada, Mexico, and the United States)
NEDLAC National Economic Development and Labor Council (South Africa)
NGO Nongovernmental organization
SACU Southern African Customs Union (South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, and Swaziland)
TEPAC Trade and Environment Policy Advisory Committee (US)
TPA Trade Promotion Authority (also known as fast track – US)
TRIPS Trade-Related Intellectual Property Agreement of the WTO
UDHR Universal Declaration of Human Rights
UN United Nations
UNDP United Nations Development Programme
UNESCO United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization
UNESCR International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights
UNICCPR International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
USTR U.S. Trade Representative
WIPO World Intellectual Property Organization
WTO World Trade Organization


Gandhi said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” With this book, we hope to encourage other scholars, citizens, and policymakers to think about the relationship between trade and human rights goals. We could not have written this book without the encouragement, assistance, and support of a wide range of individuals around the world.

   Theresa Fay Bustillos, Cindy Pierson, and Bruce Moats of the Levi-Strauss Foundation and the Levi-StraussCorporation were our earliest donors. Theresa and Bruce forced us to defendour ideas and to explain how they would help make the world a better place.They helped make this project viable. Peggy Foran of the Pfizer Corporationalso provided much needed early financial support. She was always ready togive feedback and encouragement. We were also supported by grants fromStarbucks, Unilever, and other companies. Susan Aaronson also received aresearch grant from the University of North Carolina Center forInternational Studies for travel.

   Our distinguished advisory board gave us criticalfeedback throughout the research and writing process. These advisors camefrom around the world and from different academic and work backgrounds. Weare particularly thankful for the insights of Welber Barral, DavidCingranelli, Caroline Dommen, Kimberley Ann Elliott, Maria Green, EmilyHafner Burton, Robert Howse, Andre Growenewald, Scott Jerbi, Hoe Lim, JohnMorijin, Sylvia Ostry, Carol Pier, Chip Pitts, Aaron Rosenberg, DeboraSpar, Joel Trachtman, Margriet Vonno, Jochem Wiers, and other members ofour advisory committee who patiently reviewed and improved our earlydrafts. Rod Adoubhab, Eric Biel, Iren Borissova, Jennifer Bremer, MaraBurr, Claes Hammar, Shareen Hertel, Adeline Hinderer, Thea Lee, Stephen J.Norton, Miguel Pestana, Robert Stumberg, Kay Wilkie, and Nicolais Zaimosalso provided significant comments on the drafts. Officials at the WTO, the European Commission, theOffice of the U.S. TradeRepresentative, and the U.S.State Department went out of their way to help us. Debashis Chakraborty at the Indian Institute ofForeign Trade helped Jamie conduct her research in India, although inthe end we decided not to include a chapter on India. We are also gratefulto anonymous reviewers at Cambridge University Press and World TradeReview. Our editor, John Berger, helped us with the title and provided uswith early encouragement and advice. Finally, many policymakers, businessexecutives, civil society and labor leaders, and academics provided us withcountry-specific insights. They are listed in the List ofInterviews.

   Graduate and undergraduate students frequently assisted us in our research and designed many of the tables/charts in the book. We are especially grateful to Julie Maupin, Philip Van der Celen, and Carla Winston. Julie assisted field research in South Africa and prepared an early draft of the South Africa chapter. Philip Van der Celen worked with Jamie in Brazil; he researched and prepared an initial draft of the European Union chapter. Carla Winston indexed the book and gave us advice on human rights issues.

   We also benefited from the research and programmatic support of several wonderful interns throughout the course of the research: Nick Alexsovich, Jillian Bohinc, Jan Cartwright, Matt Daly, Amanda Dixon, and Eric Lundgren.

   Our friends and family were extraordinarily patient as we spent many days and nights researching and writing this book. Thus, this book is dedicated to Doug, Ethan, and Allegra Wham and to Robert and Dorothy Zimmerman. We hope our readers will find this complex topic as interesting and as important as we do.

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