At the heart of the global economy today is a troubling paradox: the productivity of advanced manufacturing promises to raise living standards while fierce worldwide competition for jobs threatens to undercut wages and working conditions. The goal of this paper is to provide fresh perspectives on this paradox through a focus on the experience of Brazil. Four broad areas are explored in this paper: first, globalization and the new international division of labor; second, the emergence of China as an export powerhouse and the implications this has for Brazil; third, the conundrum of rising productivity and depressed wages; and finally, the role of labor standards in the new global economy. The author contends that Brazil has the potential to play a pioneering leadership role by proposing labor standards that facilitate social inclusion at home while redefining the terms of competitiveness internationally.
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