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article imageUS pressing Mexico to make labor reforms conform with USMCA

By Ken Hanly     Apr 5, 2019 in Politics
Mexico is strenghtening a labor bill to meet requirements in the US Mexico Canada Agreement or USMCA the recently negotiated replacement for NAFTA.
US putting pressure on Mexico to speed up passage of labor reforms
Mexican president Lopez Obrador urged lawmakers to pass a bill to protect worker's right as agreed in negotiations with the US and Canada as part of USMCA. There has been pressure from US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to speed up passage of the legislation. Lopez Obrador met with US legislators this week. He said that he did not want there to be any motive for the US to reopen negotiations on the pact which was agreed to last year, and at a recent briefing said: "We have told lawmakers, who are independent and autonomous, that a labor reform should be passed sticking to the agreements established in the pact.We don't want any motive to be given for reopening the negotiations of the treaty."
Pelosi said on Tuesday that the US House of Representatives could only take up consideration of USMCA after Mexico passes legislation protecting workers. Members of the labor committee of the Mexican Congress said they plan to pass the required legislation by the end of April. The legislation would make it easier for workers to form independent trade unions.
The push to improve workers' rights in Mexico was a key priority for Canada and the United States during the rocky NAFTA renegotiation because they wanted to level the playing field between their workers and lower-paid Mexican workers, especially in the auto sector.
Improving labor rights was not a challenge for Lopez Obrador
Mexico's deputy trade minister, Luz Maria de la Mora, said that President Lopez Obrador made it a key plank in his election platform to improve the lot of Mexican workers and strengthen their rights. He said: "With the agreement or without the agreement, this is something central to President Lopez Obrador — strengthening workers' rights and strengthening trade deals in Mexico."
US needs to remove tariffs on both countries
US had imposed tariffs on both steel and aluminum in Mexico. Many thought it was a lever to help get the USMCA agreement but they are still on. Mexico is not prepared to pass the new agreement unless the tariffs are lifted. Canada takes a similar position.
According to a recent article US legislators too want the tariffs lifted: "Republicans and Democrats alike on Capitol Hill won't back the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement until President Donald Trump ends America's punitive restrictions on steel and aluminum imports from Canada and Mexico, says a key congressional player in the unfolding North American trade drama."
More about USMCA, Mexican labor laws, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador
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