Author: M. Angeles Villarreal
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a proposed free trade agreement (FTA) among the United States and 11 Asia-Pacific countries that would reduce and eliminate tariff and non-tariff barriers on goods, services, and agriculture, and establish trade rules and disciplines that expand on commitments at the World Trade Organization (WTO). Commitments address new ?21st Century? issues, such as digital trade and state-owned enterprises. Labor provisions in FTAs have evolved since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which was the first U.S. FTA that addressed worker rights in a side agreement committing the parties to enforce their own labor laws and to resolve disputes. The most recent U.S. FTAs with Peru, Colombia, Panama, and South Korea incorporate stronger language by which parties must adopt, maintain, and enforce core labor principles of the International Labor Organization (ILO). The TPP includes similar provisions as these agreements, in addition to three labor consistency plans with specific commitments in regard to worker rights for Brunei, Malaysia, and Vietnam.