Trade and employment

Globalization can contribute to employment growth but open markets alone are unlikely to create enough good-quality jobs. The ILO’s Trade and Employment Programme assists governments and social partners in maximizing the benefits of trade and FDI policies in terms of quantity and quality of jobs through targeted research, trade related technical assistance and policy advice at the national, regional and global level.


  1. Symposium

    Trade and Employment in Developing Countries

    2 September 2015, ILO, Geneva, Switzerland

    This one-day international symposium will bring together leading researchers to present cutting-edge analysis and evidence on how developing countries can leverage trade for both social upgrading and inclusive development, particularly more and better jobs. The symposium will address the following themes: trade and informality; trade and inequality; trade and workers’ skills; and trade agreements and labour markets.

  2. Seminar

    Making trade work for inclusive growth: the role of skills development

    30 June 2015

    The seminar focussed on how trade relates to technological diffusion and innovation, new forms of enterprise and inter-firm relations through outsourcing and offshoring, and increased specialization and new lines of work, which all demand higher-level technical and managerial skills. The research also provided information on addressing skills challenges in a globalized world in order to make trade-induced development more broad-based.

  3. Event

    Better Inputs for Decent-Work Analysis: ILO Statistics and the GTAP Labour Module

    3 May 2013, ILO, Geneva, Switzerland

    The GTAP (Global Trade Analysis Project) database is widely used by researchers and policy makers conducting quantitative analysis of international policy issues. This seminar is on recent work to improve, using ILO statistics, the quality of the labour module of the GTAP database.

  4. Working Paper

    Trade and employment in services: The case of Indonesia

    Chris Manning, Haryo Aswicahyono

    Employment Working Paper No. 132

  5. Working Paper

    Labour related provisions in international investment agreements

    Bertram Boie

    Employment Working Paper No. 126

  6. Article

    Job Creation through Trade: Challenges for Africa

    4 June 2012

    Evidence shows that some countries have been successful in creating significant amounts of jobs in export sectors. Unfortunately those success stories tend not to be African ones.

  7. Article

    Trade and Jobs: What Role for Multilateralism

    25 April 2012

    Perceptions of the employment impact of trade are probably one of the main explanations for the current stalling in multilateral trade negotiations.

  8. Book

    Making Globalization Socially Sustainable

    20 September 2011

    This publication consists of contributions by leading academic experts including David Blanchflower, John Haltiwanger, Nina Pavcnik and Dani Rodrik, who analyse the various channels through which globalization affects jobs and wages. Together, the nine chapters in this volume summarize state-of-the art knowledge on themes related to the social dimension of globalization.

  9. Watch the video


    Globalization and Labour Market Outcomes

    23-24 June 2011, ILO, Geneva, Switzerland

    A two-day event featuring an academic workshop to discuss recent research on the topic as well as a policy forum to present results to the public and discuss their policy implications. Keynote speakers: David Autor (MIT), Elhanan Helpman (Harvard), and Margaret McMillan (Tufts U and IFPRI). Academic Organizers: Sascha O. Becker (U Warwick) and Marc Muendler (UC San Diego).

  10. Working Paper

    Regional Trade Agreements and domestic labour market regulation

    Christian Häberli, Marion Jansen, José-Antonio Monteiro

    Employment Sector Working Paper No. 120

Key resources

  1. Book

    Shared Harvests: Agriculture, Trade, and Employment

    The edited volume “Shared Harvests: Agriculture, Trade and Employment” is the outcome of a technical cooperation project entitled “Assessing and Addressing the Effects of Trade and Employment” managed jointly by the European Commission and the International Labour Office (ILO) with funding from the European Union, and collaborative work between the ILO and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). The research findings in this volume emphasize the need to make agriculture (or re-establish it as) a high policy priority, particularly in the domains of development, trade, and employment.

  2. Book

    Trade and Employment: From Myths to Facts - ILO-EC publication

    The edited volume “Trade and Employment: From Myths to Facts” is the outcome of a joint project of the European Commission and the International Labour Office. The book contributes to promoting the advancement of employment, decent work and social cohesion in developing countries by assisting policy makers and social partners in anticipating and addressing the effects of trade reforms on employment

  3. Publication

    Trade and Employment in the Global Crisis

    7 July 2010

    In many low- and middle-income countries, the global financial crisis has led to significant losses of jobs and pressures on real wages. Based on the findings of ILO-sponsored country studies of employment impacts, this book analyses how cross-border trade has acted as a transmission channel, spreading the crisis to developing states. Key topics covered include how changes in trade flows affect the labour market, the role of price volatility and demand shocks in the recent crisis and how export concentration makes countries more vulnerable. This title is co-published with Academic Foundation.

  4. Publication

    Trade and employment: Challenges for policy research

    19 February 2007

    This study provides an impartial view of what can be said, on the relationship between trade and employment, an often contentious issue of public debate. Its focus is on the connections between trade policies, and labour and social policies. It is the outcome of collaborative research between the secretariat of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the International Labour Office (ILO), addressing such issues tha concern both organizations.

  5. Publication

    ILO Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization

    13 August 2008

    Adopted by the International Labour Conference at its Ninety-seventh Session, Geneva, 10 June 2008.

  6. Report

    A Fair globalization: Creating opportunities for all

    01 February 2004

    World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization