LAC Digest February 2018

LAC Digest logo

SABINA DEWAN AND LUCAS RONCONI. (2018) “U.S. Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and Enforcement of Labor Law in Latin America.” Industrial Relations 57.1: 35-56.

This article provides an interesting account of the complex history of free trade agreements (FTAs) between U.S., Latin America and the Caribbean, and their impacts on labor law regulations in the region. The article estimates the effects of these FTAs on enforcement of labor standards and compares them to US agreements with other countries, such as Israel, Australia and South Korea. The evaluation found no indication of changes over time in labor regulation for Mexico pre-post NAFTA when compared with Brazil and Chile. The review concludes that FTAs labor provisions and other strategies for building trade capacity are vital and have contributed to the improvement of labor practices in the region.


Abstract: The paper provides difference-in-differences estimates suggesting that Latin American countries that signed a free trade agreement with the United States experienced an increase in the number of labor inspectors and inspections. We also find large heterogeneity across signers and no evidence that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) had a positive impact on Mexico. We conclude by suggesting that the stringency of content of the accord and the resources devoted by the U.S. government to increase enforcement make a difference.


Keywords: NAFTA; Latin America; Labor Laws; Trade Agreements.

DOI: 10.1111/irel.1219