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The Center for Global Development and the Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Economics co-hosted a breakfast discussion with The Honorable Bassem Khalil Al-Salem, Jordanian Minister of Labor. Kimberly Elliott, Joint Senior Fellow, Center for Global Development and Peterson Institute for International Economics served as a discussant. Minister Al-Salem presented a publication (pdf, 1M) detailing his government’s actions to improve enforcement of labor standards, particularly in the clothing sector, which exports extensively to the United States under the bilateral free trade agreement approved in 2001.
In May 2006, the National Labor Committee released a report cataloging serious abuses of the mostly female, mostly immigrant workforce in Jordan’s clothing factories. The Jordanian government quickly launched its own investigation, which confirmed that abuses had occurred. The government, with support from the US Agency for International Development, responded by raising the minimum wage, revising its labor laws, and beefing up enforcement, particularly in the "qualified industry zones" where the abuses occurred. This program is designed to ensure that the progress made to date continues. As part of that effort, the Jordanian government has reached an agreement with the International Labor Organization to monitor conditions in the garment sector--the first country to implement such a program since the successful model was pioneered in Cambodia’s garment sector at the end of the 1990s.