India to tell ILO labour norms cant be used as trade barrier

Written by fe Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Jun 13 2013, 08:03am hrs
With slowdown in exports coming in the way of quick economic recovery, labour minister Mallikarjun Kharge said on Wednesday that India will oppose developed nations' clever ploy of using labour norms as a non-tariff barrier to trade at the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

Developed nations are using corporate social responsibility (CSR) norms to block companies from purchasing merchandise from developing countries like India on the grounds that they are involved in child labour. More than 90% of India's workforce is in the unorganised sector and prevalence of child labour cannot be ruled out in smaller units.

Kharge, who is leading a delegation of government officials, union leaders and employers representatives to ILO's annual conference, said labour standards should not be used as non-tariff barriers. India strongly advocates the primacy of ILO standards in the area of labour. We oppose mushrooming of private, voluntary, CSR standards as they pursue the protectionist agenda of developed countries, he said in a statement.

As per ILO convention 81, labour inspection remains the responsibility of the government. Bringing in extraneous agencies in the area of labour inspection will undermine the governments role. All nations should work within the framework of national labour laws, Kharge said.

India's exports fell 2% to $300.3 billion in 2012-13, as the major markets including US, Europe and Japan were suffering a downturn. Many advanced nations have been trying to boost domestic output by imposing non-tariff barriers to trade, which has hurt emerging nations like India.