Center for American Progress

Global Public Backs Labor and Environmental Standards in Trade Deals

Global Public Backs Labor and Environmental Standards in Trade Deals

Ruy Teixeira finds that an overwhelming majority of people around the world think trade deals should include labor and environmental protections.

When it comes to labor and environmental standards in trade agreements, public support in the U.S. is truly overwhelming. Since 2002, surveys by Program on International Policy Attitudes and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs have regularly recorded over 90 percent support for countries involved in international trade agreements having to “maintain minimum standards for working conditions.” 

The most recent CCGA survey in 2006 showed 93 percent of Americans endorsing labor standards in trade agreements. The same survey charted 91 percent of Americans saying that trade agreements should include minimum standards for the protection of the environment.

The CCGA, in partnership with, also polled the public in 10 other countries around the world, including the two world population leaders, China and India. The survey strikingly found that support for labor and environmental standards in most of these countries is also very strong.  

For example, as shown in the charts below, 89 percent of Argentineans back labor standards in trade agreements and 90 percent support environmental standards. Similarly, 84 percent of the Chinese public supports labor standards and 85 percent support environmental standards. The only exception to this overwhelming consensus is the Phillipines, which has only 48 percent support for environmental standards. Solid majorities of the public in all other ten countries support having both labor and environmental standards in international trade agreements.

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Ruy Teixeira

Former Senior Fellow