A Supply Chain Approach to Trade and Labor Provisions

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2463

Article | Open Access

A Supply Chain Approach to Trade and Labor Provisions


  • Kevin Kolben Rutgers Business School, Rutgers University, USA


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Abstract:  As labor provisions in trade agreements have become increasingly ubiquitous, there remain questions about whether or not these provisions have been effective in improving working conditions in trading partner countries. Through an analysis of sample labor provisions in United States and European Union free trade agreements, this paper shows that both approaches, albeit using different methods, aim primarily to improve de jure labor law and de facto enforcement of that law by government regulatory institutions. This paper argues that instead, labor provisions ought to be grounded in a supply chain approach. A supply chain approach shifts the focus from impacting de jure and de facto labor law as administered by the state though sanctions or dialogue, and towards context specific, experimental, and coordinated private and public regulatory interventions that operate in key export industries that are implicated in trading partners’ supply chains. It does so in part by recognizing the potential regulatory power of consumer citizenship.

Keywords:  consumer citizenship; governance; labor provisions; supply chains; trade

Published:   14 December 2017


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/pag.v5i4.1088


© Kevin Kolben. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.