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Bureau of International Labor Affairs
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Free Trade Agreement Administration

The labor provisions of free trade agreements help ensure that the benefits of trade are widely shared, that worker rights are not denied in order to gain a trade advantage or attract investment, and that U.S. businesses and workers compete on a level playing field globally.

The United States has trade agreements with 19 countries that include provisions to protect worker rights and facilitate cooperation among labor ministries. These provisions include mechanisms for meetings of labor ministries to discuss progress in implementation and to develop cooperative activities, such as technical exchanges.  Read More

Our role

The Office of Trade and Labor Affairs (OTLA) within the Bureau of International Labor Affairs is responsible for overseeing the labor provisions in US free trade agreements on behalf of the US Labor Department. We do this by tracking labor issues in FTA countries to monitor their governments' efforts to effectively enforce their labor laws, particularly laws regarding:

  • the right of association;
  • the right to organize and bargain collectively;
  • prohibitions on the use of forced or compulsory labor;
  • the minimum age for the employment of children and the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labor; and
  • acceptable conditions of work with respect to minimum wages, hours of work and occupational safety and health.

We do this by engaging with our counterparts in the Ministries of Labor in those countries, by working with OTLA's Technical Assistance and Cooperation team on projects to help build those ministries' ability to enforce those laws, and by engaging with a range of stakeholders who also track these issues.

Our objectives

We undertake the above activities in an effort to ensure  that FTA partner governments:

  • effectively enforce their labor laws and implement laws and policies that protect worker rights;
  • understand their commitments under the FTA labor chapters; and
  • revise or adopt laws, regulations, and policies consistent with international labor standards.