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U.S. Positions Promoting Worker Rights in the

Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement and

Their Impact on Taiwan

Cing-Kae Chiao

Institute of European and American Studies, Academia Sinica

No. 128, Sec. 2, Academia Rd., Taipei 11529, Taiwan



The purpose of this paper is to use the negotiation and signing

of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) to analyze United

States government action in promoting worker rights through bilat-

eral and regional free trade agreements. It also offers several pro-

posals for Taiwan to reform its labor laws and practices seen as hur-

dles it must overcome to join the TPP. Aside from introductory and

concluding remarks, the paper is divided into four sections. First, it

briefly describes the historical background and motivations behind

the TPP, and the importance of Taiwanese participation. Second, it

discusses why and how the U.S. government has raised worker rights

issues in international trade, investment and other related activities to

safeguard domestic labor. Third, it analyzes the positions taken by the

U.S. in promoting five fundamental worker rights contained in Chap-

ter 19 of the TPP. Finally, the paper utilizes various critiques con-

tained in the annual State Department issued Country Reports on Hu-

man Right Practices as a basis to propose several reform measures for

Taiwan to initiate as required by the TPP. It concludes that these re-

forms not only improve labor rights domestically, but can Taiwan’s

labor laws and practices conform to international standards.

Key Words


Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreements




Free Trade





worker rights, International Labor





international labor standards