ITAM was host to the “Remaking the Global Trading System for a Sustainable Future Project” workshop, where the issue of how global commerce can be more effective in addressing issues related to labor conditions, poverty, gender equality, health and indigenous peoples’ rights was explored.
From July 15 to 17, 2023, one of the ten Remaking Trade workshops took place at ITAM. It’s and joint initiative of the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy, The Shridath Ramphal Center of the University of the West Indies and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. This project has as an objective to generate a sustainability agenda for the trading system, that will align the rules and procedures of the World Trade Organization (WTO) with the commitment against climate change and with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Trade and its social impact
After a welcome cocktail, on july 16th, the workshop was officially launched with a short introduction from professors Joel Trachtman and Daniel Etsy. Throughout the day, three sessions took place where the subjects on “Labor Rights and Trade Freedom”, “Trade and Gender”, and “Inequality and Labor Impact” were discussed.
The first session’s theme was “Labor Rights and Trade Freedom”. The importance of the Quick Response Mechanism as a mechanism implemented in Mexico was emphasized, right after the Agreement between USA, Mexico and Canada came into full force, to ensure the workers protection.
During the second session, “Trade and Gender”, the liberalization of trade to women and its implication was highlighted. In general, they don’t receive financial support and they get send to the background, therefor, the trade agreements do not benefit them. Thus, it was externalized that it is important to ensure that the benefits are not only put down on paper (intangible), but that the necessary efforts be made to include women in trade and reduce the inequality gap.
The third session was on “Inequality and Labor Impact”. Here, the change in focus of many to give more relevance to social problems and concerns on trading issues. In addition, they discussed whether trade could be a source of many social issues and whether a gap exists and its increasing between less and more qualified workers.
Trade and development
To close the event, on the 17th, three sessions took place: “Poverty, Development and Trade”, “Trade and Health”, and “Trade and the Rights of Indigenous People”. Also, a brief lecture took place, accompanied of a Q&A with Pablo Solorio, a U.S. government labor attaché in Mexico.
During the “Poverty, Development and Trade” session, ideas related to a fairer system to assign the costs of sustainable development where shared. It was also mentioned that it is generally more difficult for low-income or developing countries to adjust to market liberalization, according to economic studies. However, it was also considered how the effect of freedom of trade in countries is different, depending to their national politics.
The second session was on “Trade and Health”, in which it was emphasized the lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic. Within this lessons, the main one was the importance of cooperation of the international community in subjects of public health. Besides, it was mentioned that the WTO should have helped to ease the knowledge exchange on vaccines, given that the main difficulties were patent trade and resources allocation.
The third session was on the subject of “Trade and the Rights of Indigenous People ”. The presenters argued that there are two types of impacts in indigenous communities due to freedom of trade —that impacts the acknowledgement of these people as beings an on their production— and other that impacts the financial aspect, because it dissolves the participation of these communities. It was emphasized the possible exceptions that could be included in international commerce to protect said people, without forgetting that each indigenous community suffers from different conditions.
The last lecture was in charge of Pablo Solorio, who spoke about the main points of the USMCA, focused in the subject of labor standards. He mentioned that in Mexico, plenty of changes had happened very quickly and very efficiently with the help of the US government, to ensure a fitting implementation of reforms.
Lastly, it should be mentioned the key role played on the organization of the event by Dr. Joyce Sadka, Chair of the Department of Law at ITAM, Dr. Amrita Bahri, full time professor of the Department of Law and Mariangel Espinosa, coordinator of communication and institutional link within the same department.