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26 Apr 2022

Key human rights tests for UK Free Trade Agreements

International trade and investment has the potential to bring shared prosperity and sustainable development. Yet without adequate rules and the right business incentives to protect workers and communities, trade deals can contribute to a ‘race to the bottom’ leading to stagnant or declining wages, worsening labour conditions, and a loss of protections for human and environmental rights.

As the UK negotiates new FTAs in 2022, agreeing trade and investment frameworks which embed respect for human rights and the environment should be an urgent priority. In this short briefing we set out four key tests that help to distinguish responsible trade deals which enhance human rights from those which could lead to harm for workers and communities.

• Agreements should contain enforceable human rights conditions.

• Agreements should be subject to an independent human rights and environmental impact assessment.

• Agreements should contain enforceable human rights obligations on businesses and investors.

• No Investor-State Dispute Settlement.