Labor regimes, global production networks, and European Union trade policy: labor standards and export production in the Moldovan clothing industry

Smith, Adrian, Barbu, Mirela, Campling, Liam, Harrison, James and Richardson, Ben (2018) Labor regimes, global production networks, and European Union trade policy: labor standards and export production in the Moldovan clothing industry. Economic Geography, 94 (5). pp. 550-574. ISSN 0013-0095

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Abstract

This article examines the relations between workplace and local labor regimes, global production networks (GPNs), and the state-led creation of expanded markets as spaces of capitalist regulation through trade policy. Through an examination of the ways in which labor regimes are constituted as a result of the articulation of local social relations and lead-firm pressure in GPNs, the article examines the limits of labor provisions in European Union trade policy seeking to ameliorate the worst consequences of trade liberalization and economic integration on working conditions. The article takes as its empirical focus the Moldovan clothing industry, the leading export-oriented manufacturing sector in the country. Trade liberalization has opened up a market space for EU lead firms to contract with Moldovan-based suppliers, but in seeking to regulate labor conditions in the process of trade liberalization, the mechanisms in place are not sufficient to deal with the consequences for workers’ rights and working conditions. Indeed, when articulated with national state policy formulations seeking to liberalize labor markets and deregulate labor standards, the limits of what can be achieved via labor provisions are reached. The EU’s trade policy formulation does not sufficiently take account of the structural causes of poor working conditions. Consequently, there is a mismatch between what the EU is trying to achieve and the core labor issues that structure social relations in, and labor regimes of, low-wage labor-intensive clothing export production for EU markets.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: labor regimes, trade policy, global production networks, European Union, Moldova, clothing industry
Schools and Departments: School of Business, Management and Economics > Management
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > HF1021 Commercial geography. Economic geography
H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > HF1701 Tariff. Free trade. Protectionism
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Depositing User: Mirela Barbu
Date Deposited: 28 Jan 2019 14:06
Last Modified: 11 Nov 2019 13:31
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/81460

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