Global Resources

Trade Impact Review

Author: S. Gammage, H. Jorgensen, E. McGill
Publication Date: Jan 2002
This tool provides an extensive overview of the literature and frameworks to analyse gender-differentiated impacts of new trade and investment agreements undertaken by the United States (US) prior to their negotiation and signing. A framework is then proposed that accounts for both the economic as well as legal effects of trade agreements on women and men. The legal context is explored through an examination of the content of agreements for gender-bias and whether any implementation or enforcement mechanisms may prove disadvantageous to women. An analysis of how trade agreements might conflict with existing laws or international commitments that protect women's rights is also crucial.

The framework is then used to draw out the social and gender implications of trade and investment agreements. In manufacturing, for instance, trade liberalisation has meant that manufacturers have had to drive down costs to compete, where jobs and wages for women have been outsourced, leading to lower wages and job instability. The paper concludes with policy recommendations including the need for a complete gender and social impact assessment of US trade and investment commitments. This should involve gender-disaggregated analysis of both commitments made by the US as well as those of its trading partners, and should involve a range of stakeholders such as the Departments of Labor, Education and Health, as well as women's, international development and environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs).