, Volume 57, Issue 3–4, pp 423–432 | Cite as

Unfair Trade? Preferential Trade Agreements, Human Rights and Inequalities

  • Tessa Khan
Thematic Section


This article examines the implications for social inclusion, equality and the fulfillment of human rights of the recent proliferation of preferential trade agreements (PTAs). It considers the impact that PTAs have had on small and medium-sized enterprises, smallholder farmers and women. It also considers the limits on domestic policy space mandated by PTAs, and the implications this has for the ability of governments’ to regulate in the public interest.


free trade agreements human rights gender equality investor-state dispute settlement intellectual property World Trade Organization 


  1. Baccini, Leonardo, Pablo M. Pinto and Stephen Weymouth (2015) The Dark Side of International Trade Agreements, working paper,,%20Pinto,%20Weymouth%2031.1.2015.pdf.
  2. Banga, Rashmi (2013) ‘Measuring Value in Global Value Chains’, Background Paper No. RVC-8, unpublished report, Geneva: UNCTAD.Google Scholar
  3. Bloomberg Business (2015) ‘Suez wins $405 million arbitration ruling in Argentina dispute’, 19 April.Google Scholar
  4. Bonnitcha, Jonathan (2011) ‘The Problem of Moral Hazard and its Implications for the Protection of ‘Legitimate Expectations’ under the Fair and Equitable Treatment Standard’, Investment Treaty News 3 (1): 6–9.Google Scholar
  5. Ecofair Trade Dialogue (ETD) (2011) Right to Food Impact Assessment of the EU-India Trade Agreement. Berlin: Heinrich Böll Stiftung, Third World Network, Miseroer, Anthra, Glopolis, Ecofair Trade Dialogue.Google Scholar
  6. ETC Group (2013) Putting the Cartel before the Horse … and Farm, Seeds, Soil, Peasants, etc.; Who Will Control Agricultural Inputs, 2013? Ottawa: ETC Group.Google Scholar
  7. European Commission (2015) How Trade Policy and Regional Trade Agreements Support and Strengthen EU Economic Performance. Brussels: European Commission.Google Scholar
  8. FAO (2011) Women in Agriculture: Closing the Gender Gap for Development. Rome: FAO.Google Scholar
  9. FAO, IFAD, WFP (2015) The State of Food Insecurity in the World. Rome: UN FAO.Google Scholar
  10. French, J. (2014) ‘Investor-State Dispute Settlement – A cut above the courts?’, paper presented to Supreme and Federal Courts Judges’ Conference, unpublished report, Darwin.Google Scholar
  11. Gallagher, Kevin P. (2010) ‘Policy Space to Prevent and Mitigate Financial Crises in Trade and Investment Agreements’, G-24 Discussion Paper No. 58, unpublished report.Google Scholar
  12. Harrison, Ann, John McLaren and Margaret McMillan (2011) ‘Recent Perspectives on Trade and Inequality’, Annual Review of Economics 3 (1): 261–289.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. ILO, GIZ (2013) Is Small Still Beautiful? Literature Review of Recent Empirical Evidence on the Contribution of SMEs to Employment Creation. Berlin/Geneva: GIZ/ILO.Google Scholar
  14. Indonesia Newsstand (2015) ‘Jakarta Plans to Reorganize Water Resource Management’, 30 March.Google Scholar
  15. International Labour Organization (ILO) (2012) Global Employment Trends for Women. Geneva: ILO.Google Scholar
  16. International Trade Centre (ITC) (2014) Empowering Women through Public Procurement. Geneva: ITC.Google Scholar
  17. Jones, Doug (2011) ‘The Problem of Inconsistency and Conflicting Awards in Investment Arbitration’, paper presented to German-American Lawyers’ Association, unpublished report, Frankfurt.Google Scholar
  18. Kabeer, Naila (2012) ‘Women’s Economic Empowerment and Inclusive Growth: Labour Markets and Enterprise Development’, SIG Working Paper 2012/1, unpublished report, London: School of Oriental and African Studies, UK Department for International Development and International Development Research Centre.Google Scholar
  19. Kahale, George (2012) ‘Is Investor-State Arbitration Broken?’, Transnational Dispute Management 9 (7): 1–36.Google Scholar
  20. Maxwell, Daniel and Keith Wiebe (1999) ‘Land Tenure and Food Security: Exploring dynamic linkages’, Development & Change 30 (4): 825–849.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Municipal Services Project (MSP), CEO, Transnational Institute (2012) Remunicipalisation: Putting water back into public hands. Amsterdam: Transnational Institute.Google Scholar
  22. Nomura, Ryoichi, Takao Ohkawa, Makoto Okamura and Makoto Tawada (2013) ‘Does a Bilateral FTA Pave the Way for Multilateral Free Trade? Review of International Economics 21 (1): 164–176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. OECD (2004) Promoting SMEs for Development. Promoting Entrepreneurship and Innovative SMEs in a Global Economy: Towards a More Responsible and Inclusive Globalisation. Paper presented at the 2nd OECD Conference of Ministers Responsible for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises, Istanbul, 3–5 June, unpublished report, OECD.Google Scholar
  24. OHCHR (2015) Secret Negotiations on Trade Treaties, a Threat to Human rights – UN Expert. Geneva: UN.Google Scholar
  25. Third World Network (TWN) (2011) India’s Free Trade Agreements and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises: Provisions, linkages and possible impact – a toolkit for MSMEs. Penang: TWN.Google Scholar
  26. Tussie, Diana and Carlos Aggio (2006) ‘Economic and Social Impacts of Trade Liberalization’, in Sam Laird and Santiago Fernández de Córdoba (eds.) Coping with Trade Reforms. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  27. UN Inter-Agency Network on Women and Gender Equality (2011) Gender Equality and Trade Policy: Resource paper, 2011. New York: UN.Google Scholar
  28. UNCTAD (2008) Report of the International Conference ‘Moving towards Gender Sensitization of Trade Policy’, Geneva: UNCTAD.Google Scholar
  29. UNCTAD (2013) ‘World Investment Report 2013, Global Value Chains: Investment and Trade for Development’, Geneva: UNCTAD.Google Scholar
  30. UNCTAD (2015) Recent Trends in IIAS and ISDS. Geneva: UNCTAD.Google Scholar
  31. UNDP (2010) Intellectual Property, Agrobiodiversity and Gender Considerations: Issues and case studies from the Andean and South Asian regions. New York: UNDP.Google Scholar
  32. Wamboye, Evelyn F. and Stephanie Seguino (2015) ‘Gender Effects of Trade Openness in Sub-Saharan Africa’, Feminist Economics 21 (3): 1–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. WTO (2012) World Trade Report 2011, The WTO and Preferential Trade Agreements: From co-existence to coherence. Geneva: WTO.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Society for International Development 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tessa Khan

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations