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School of Geography

Project description: aims, research approaches/methods

The project examines three countries that have recently signed such agreements, and similar arrangements, with the EU (South Korea, Moldova and Guyana), to investigate:

  1. the negotiating process for each agreement, and whether these processes have helped domestic coalitions in each country to push for better protection of labour standards;
  2. what is happening in the institutional mechanisms created by the trade agreements and the extent to which key labour standards issues are raised and dealt with;
  3. key export sectors in each country (automobiles, clothing and sugar respectively) to examine what the impact of the negotiating processes and institutional mechanisms in the trade agreements are in the factories and fields of third countries.

Vitally important to this project is the recognition that labour standards provisions in FTAs may have very different effects on workers’ lives in third countries depending on a number of factors, including:

  1. How powerful each trading partner is and how this effects the EU's ability to influence its policies and practices;
  2. The geo-political context in which each agreement is implemented (a free standing trade agreement (South Korea), part of a wider economic partnership agreement (Guyana), or as part of much deeper economic integration (Moldova); and
  3. How different economic sectors are affected, hence our research will look at three different industries; capital-intensive manufacturing (automobiles); labour-intensive manufacturing (clothing) and agricultural production and processing (sugar).

Evaluation of this ‘new generation’ model will be a vital source of evidence to inform the work of international organisations such as the European Commission, the ILO, and trade union/NGO groups over FTA implementation and negotiations.

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