Recommendations to Improve GSP Labor Rights Criteria and Review Process

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Date of publication: December 1, 2009

Author: Brian Campbell

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It is the position of ILRF that the labor criteria for all trade preference programs should be updated. Reforms must be undertaken to ensure a fair and manageable petition review process that includes reviews for both country compliance and industry compliance with the labor eligibility criteria. Most importantly, the USTR must also have a clear understanding, achievable only through direct Congressional mandates, that respect for core labor rights at both the country and industry level. It is a fundamental precondition to achieve the program’s goal of broadbased sustainable development and that of any trade benefits. We believe that the reforms outlined below, if fully implemented and adhered to, will provide the USTR with the renewed mandate and the tools needed to advocate for improved working conditions in industries that receive preferential trade access to the US market.

  1. GSP eligibility criteria must be updated to meet current international law norms and every country must at least meet a basic minimum labor standard.
  2. Labor rights review processes must be more flexible and transparent with binding timelines for action by the US Government.
  3. “New information” requirement for country practice petitions must be removed from the regulations.
  4. Product eligibility must be subject to the same mandatory labor criteria.
  5. The GSP must provide the right to file product-eligibility petitions for widespread labor violations in economic sectors encompassing many countries.
  6. The GSP must also provide the right to file product-eligibility petitions for widespread labor violations in economic sectors within a single country.
  7. Sector-based labor initiatives linked to trade incentives has had a positive impact on broad-based development.