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Protecting labor rights is a core priority of President Obama’s trade agenda, and the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) is at the forefront of the Administration’s efforts to improve labor laws and working conditions with trading partners in virtually every region of the globe. The Obama Administration is committed to using the full range of tools that are available – whether under trade agreements, trade preference programs, or through multilateral fora – to protect the rights of workers around the globe. These efforts have helped to level the playing field for American workers and businesses by building strong and enforceable labor standards.
Negotiating high labor standards in trade agreements: USTR is leading the Obama Administration’s efforts to negotiate the strongest labor protections ever negotiated in trade agreements anywhere in the world. USTR’s approach in the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership not only incorporates commitments to adopt and maintain fundamental labor rights, as recognized by the International Labor Organization, and to effectively enforce labor laws, but also includes first-ever commitments on forced labor and acceptable conditions of work.
Securing labor rights through monitoring and enforcement of trade agreements: USTR’s Labor Office monitors adherence to labor rights provisions of existing bilateral and regional trade agreements and holds countries accountable for upholding their labor commitments. Learn more about USTR's monitoring and enforcement actions, here.
Public submission process under trade agreements: USTR works with the Department of Labor to review public submissions filed under free trade agreements and to engage governments in an effort to address concerns raised through the submission process. Learn more about the submission process and current submissions, here.
Upholding worker rights in trade preference program countries USTR monitors and enforces countries’ adherence to worker rights criteria under trade preference programs, including Generalized System of Preference (GSP), African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI), and Haiti HOPE.
Promoting Trade and Labor around the Globe: Leading the effort to develop positions and build international consensus on trade and labor issues in regional and bilateral and multilateral fora. Read more about the fundamental labor rights of the International Labor Organization (ILO), here.
Promoting Public Participation: Alongside the U.S. Department of Labor, USTR co-chairs the Labor Advisory Committee for Trade Negotiations and Trade Policy (LAC). The LAC is comprised of members of the U.S. labor community and advises, consults with, and makes recommendations to the United States Trade Representative and the Secretary of Labor, on general trade and labor policy matters, including the negotiation and implementation of trade agreements.
In February 2015, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the U.S. Department of Labor issued a report, entitled "Standing Up for Workers: Promoting Labor Rights through Trade"
Protecting workers’ rights is a top priority for the Obama Administration, and the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) and the Department of Labor (DOL) are leading the Administration’s efforts to improve labor laws and working conditions with trading partners in virtually every region of the globe.
Read the full report here.
The Administration is working with Burma and the international community to develop new tools to help Burma improve fundamental labor rights and set a strong foundation for sustainable growth and development. During President Obama’s visit to Burma in October 2014, the United States, along with Burma (Myanmar), Japan, Denmark, and the International Labor Organization (ILO), launched a new Initiative to Promote Fundamental Labor Rights and Practices in Myanmar. The Initiative will help modernize Burma’s labor code, improve compliance with international labor standards, and foster a robust dialogue between the government, business, labor and civil society.