POST TIME: 16 December, 2019 00:00 00 AM
Mexico rejects bid in US Congress to impose trade-pact inspectors
AFP, Mexico City

Mexico rejects bid in US Congress to impose trade-pact inspectors

Mexico rejected on Saturday an attempt in the US Congress that would send American inspectors into Mexican factories to ensure they respect labor protections provided by the new North American trade pact.

As part of US ratification of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), Democrats in Congress proposed designating up to

five American labor attaches to monitor compliance in Mexico.

The Senate in Mexico City ratified the trade pact on Thursday, after more than two years of arduous negotiations with Washington and Ottawa.

Jesus Seade, the chief Mexican trade negotiator on the accord, told reporters Saturday that while most of the proposed US legislation was in line with expectations, the proposal for labor inspectors was not part of the agreement the three countries signed in Mexico City last Tuesday.

“For evident reasons,” he said, Mexico was not consulted about that provision.

Seade, Mexico’s Undersecretary for North America said he had raised the matter with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and would travel to Washington on Sunday to consult with members of Congress.

Under Mexican law, he said, American officials “can in no case have inspection powers” in Mexico.

The new pact, which replaces the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), was first signed in November 2018.

But it soon bogged down in political complications, particularly in the United States, where Democrats questioned whether it would really force Mexico to deliver on labor reforms meant to level the playing field between lower-wage Mexican workers and their better-paid American counterparts.