GEG WP 2017/124 Trade and Labour Rights: The Case of the TPP

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Author: Nghia Trong Pham


This research investigates the implications of trade on labour rights. It examines whether the labour commitments in the TPP improve labour rights in Viet Nam or not. It evaluates the current situation of law and practice in Viet Nam using the TPP requirements as a benchmark. It finds that freedom of association is the most difficult issue for Viet Nam since it conflicts with the political system and the hierarchical, authoritarian trade union structure in Viet Nam. Due to benefits of the TPP, Viet Nam will carry out reforms needed to meet the TPP labour requirements. However, while interests are aligned on joining the TPP they will not be aligned on compliance, and the implementation of these reforms will be challenging since the fully enjoyment of freedom of association is not recognised and supported in practice. It concludes that trade can improve workers’ right to freedom of association in the books of law but rarely improve their enjoyment of this right in practice.