NEF has been been working with the European Environmental Bureau on a campaign to stop big business interests from undermining the standards that protect citizens and consumers, in areas from food and pharmaceuticals to chemicals and new technologies. The Trade Justice Movement campaigns on behalf of 70 civil society organisations for trade rules that work for people and planet. Together we are hugely concerned about the influence of big business, with little regard for the public interest, which is lobbying to strip back the regulations which keep us and our environment safe.
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The race to the bottom is a socio-economic phrase to describe government deregulation of the business environment, or reduction in tax rates, in order to attract or retain economic activity in their jurisdictions. An outcome of globalization and free tradeit may occur when competition increases between geographic areas over a particular sector of trade and production. The concept of a regulatory "race to the bottom" emerged in the United States during the late s and early s, when there was charter competition among states to attract corporations to base in their jurisdiction.
Countries skimp enforcement of decent working conditions to get FDI. In the race for foreign business, the argument goes, countries cut back on regulation and enforcement of decent working conditions in order to lower labour costs. But are tragedies like the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh in April freak occurrences or the sign of a wider problem of falling labour standards?
C ontrary to the impression this column may sometimes give, I like to think that I am at heart an optimist. What makes one seem pessimistic are economic policies that appear to be mistaken and to cause unnecessary hardship. After all, although economics has been known for centuries as "the dismal science", it is fundamentally concerned with improving the human condition.
Skip to search form Skip to main content. Race to the Bottom or Race to Brussels? This article tests the theory using environmental output data for 24 countries from t
Justice Louis Brandeis is generally credited with coining the term race to the bottom. In a judgment for Liggett vs. Lee, he stated that the race between states to entice companies to incorporate in their jurisdiction was "one not of diligence but of laxity", meaning states were relaxing rules instead of refining them to gain an edge over competitors.
States want to attract industry. During the s, this theory was instrumental to the creation and design of the statutes that give the federal government the final say over state environmental policy Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, etc. Its success in policymaking notwithstanding, the race to the bottom theory has fared poorly with the passage of time. And in a congressional hearing, Profs.
There was an expectation in Peking that once the country became integrated into the world economy, it would be on the right track to attain economic prosperity. There might be some bumps along the way: some industries and agriculture would suffer, affecting employment, but as a whole, it was predicted, China would gain. What within the Chinese system allows it to lead in this race to the bottom in labour standards?