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Why Trade Deals Matter for Workers Everywhere
The shift of low-skilled manufacturing jobs from industrialized to emerging economies helped lift millions out of poverty over the past few decades (even as it displaced Western workers). But a new study of Ethiopia’s growing manufacturing sector shows that while factory jobs raise wages throughout the economy, the benefits for workers are mixed. Compared to a control group of self-employed and informal sector workers, those employed in the new factories did not earn more and faced significantly higher health and safety risks—exposed to chemicals and injuries from unsafe working conditions. These findings show why trade agreements matter. By incorporating labor and environmental standards and mechanisms to enforce these rules, they can improve the livelihood of workers in all places.
Thailand Opens Anticorruption Court
Inaugurating a new anticorruption court on Monday, Thailand’s junta leader, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, reaffirmed his promise to eradicate corruption over the next twenty years. Yet studies show that separate anticorruption courts are not always effective. These bodies often suffer from the same limits as regular courts, including lack of judicial independence, few qualified staff, and long backlogs. And specialized or not, prosecutors or judges are often reluctant to go after elites, leading mostly to convictions of low-level officials. More important for rooting out corruption are making government procurement more transparent, and partnering with international organizations that have the resources and clout to tackle large-scale grand corruption.
Despite Corruption, Afghan Government Asks for More Aid
The deep-seated corruption plaguing Afghanistan overshadows the Ashraf Ghani government’s recent appeal to the United States and other donors for fresh funds. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), a U.S. watchdog agency, estimates that billions of aid dollars have disappeared over the past fifteen years. The United States contributed to this graft by failing to monitor how donations were spent, funding NGOs and contractors that accepted bribes and pocketed funds. This time, the U.S. government says it will make assistance dependent on anticorruption reforms. President Ghani claims his administration has already taken steps to root out graft—Ghani himself became the first senior official to comply with a U.S.-backed effort to disclose public officials’ assets, and his administration has fired hundreds of judges and prosecutors, many on corruption charges.