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This paper addresses the issues of whether the linking of core labor standards with multilateral or bilateral trade agreements is an effective way of promoting the improvement of labor standards. We review the determinants of core labor standards over time and conclude that efforts to improve these standards have to be tailored to the economic and social circumstances prevailing in a country at a specific time. Legalistic means to prod governments into revising their domestic laws or enforcing them will therefore be unsuccessful unless economic incentives can be changed to erode prevailing social norms and ease the way for the acceptance of new norms that will meet with public approval and be consonant with the distribution of political power. Moral suasion from both domestic and external sources may work more slowly than more legalistic means but is preferred because it contributes to altering the social norms that underlie and will reinforce the acceptance and effectiveness of labor standards.
The WTO Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (the SPS Agreement) allows Members to enact SPS measures necessary to protect health so long as they are based on scientific evidence. This scientific evidence requirement has attracted controversy among academics, policy-makers, and civil society. The argument has been advanced that the requirement inappropriately excludes the consideration of public opinion in the domestic risk regulatory decision-making process. The article addresses the question of whether it is possible to reconcile the SPS Agreement's requirement for scientific evidence with concerns regarding exclusion of the public voice in the domestic regulatory process. It responds positively to this query, subject to certain caveats to ensure that trade liberalization goals are not undermined. It argues that the scientific evidence requirement is not only the most appropriate means available for advancing the SPS Agreement's objectives, but that it provides countries with more flexibility than critics contend, including to respond to public sentiment in cases of scientific uncertainty. Recommendations are made as to how panels and the Appellate Body should proceed in disputes under the SPS Agreement, and how governments can comply with their trade obligations while remaining responsive to public concerns.
The present article examines what influence various domestic constituents exert on the negotiating positions member states adopt in WTO trade rounds based on a survey of national delegations to the WTO. The findings show that in both developed and developing countries, a broad array of governmental and non-governmental actors substantially shape trade policy-making. At the cost of those ministries traditionally in charge of trade policy-making, many domestic constituents have increased their influence since the conclusion of the Uruguay Round. This leads to a discussion of the problematic implications of these developments towards more participatory trade policy-making for WTO negotiations.
Since its creation, the GATT/WTO has experienced a vast number of changes, from being a small agreement with 23 contracting parties to becoming an international organization with 151 Members; from negotiations on a limited number of tariff reductions and general rules to embracing wider and more sensitive areas, such as agriculture, services, intellectual property and environment; and from a main-trading-powers' leadership to a wider participation and more balanced reflection of interests from both developed and developing countries alike. This article attempts to demonstrate the pragmatism of coalitions, as well as both the costs and benefits of creating or joining them in the current framework of negotiations in the Doha Round.