The Handbook of Globalisation, Third Edition
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The Handbook of Globalisation, Third Edition

Edited by Jonathan Michie

The past 30 years are often depicted as an era of globalisation, and even more so with the recent rise of global giants such as Google and Amazon. This updated and revised edition of The Handbook of Globalisation offers novel insights into the rapid changes our world is facing, and how best we can handle them.
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Chapter 26: Free trade or social tariffs?

George DeMartino


During the 1990s a controversy emerged over incorporating labour and human rights and environmental protections in the World Trade Organization (WTO), the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and other trade agreements. Trade economists were universally opposed to ‘fair trade’ measures, arguing that international differences in labour and environmental standards represented another natural source of comparative advantage. Today there is much greater concern among economists about the adverse impacts of free trade, and increasing openness to the idea of fair trade. This chapter explores the theoretical aspects of the debate, changing sentiments in the economics profession regarding fair trade, and various fair-trade measures that deserve economists’ attention.

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