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Labor Standards

In “Labor Is Not a Trade Issue” (editorial, Oct. 15), The Times argues that labor standards are “highly important but are not a subject for [the World Trade Organization].” The Times suggests that the International Labor Organization should be the forum for addressing labor standards.

Domestic labor policies have broad implications in any trade negotiations. When a government violates or fails to enforce minimum labor standards, it may confer an artificial advantage on its producers to the detriment of farmers and businesses in other countries. A nation’s lack of minimum labor standards can suppress the development of a middle class, hurting its own economy and ours.

Globalization is a fact, not a policy option. The challenge is to ensure that increased trade raises, rather than lowers, global living standards. Doing so does not mean imposing, for example, the U.S. minimum wage on other countries, or closing our markets to foreign competition. But it does require a means to enforce internationally recognized labor standards--and the ILO has not a tooth to do so.

REP. XAVIER BECERRA

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D-Los Angeles

REP. SANDER M. LEVIN

D-Mich.


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