Trade deals are one of the ways the EU defends workers’ rights around the world. Agreements with Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, South Korea, Georgia, southern Africa and Caribbean countries, among others, ban forced labour and require that trade unions be allowed to negotiate with employers. Civil society groups then meet to ensure these standards are met and monitor the trade deal’s impact on workers. The best way to help lift workers out of poverty is to trade with them.
The easier it is for developing countries to export to the EU, the more likely they are to produce higher value goods (like chocolate instead of cocoa) and create better paying jobs (in manufacturing not mining). At the same time, where countries don’t do enough to protect employees’ rights they risk losing preferential access to the lucrative European market.
Trade helps workers in developed countries too. As required under its recent trade deal with the EU, Canada is in the process of ratifying the International Labour Organization convention on collective bargaining.