In today’s globalised economy, the free movement of goods, services and capital impels countries to compete for trade and foreign investment by lowering their labour standards. International trade is therefore widely perceived as instigating regulatory competition between countries, or a “race to the bottom”. The challenge that international trade poses for countries’ labour standards has been a central concern of the International Labour Organization (ILO) since its establishment. As recently as this year, in its Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work, the ILO reiterated the recognition that “in conditions of globalization, the failure of any country to adopt humane conditions of labour is more than ever an obstacle to progress in all other countries”.
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