Mexican, U.S. trade officials to discuss labor enforcement provision in USMCA: media

WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 (Xinhua) -- A top Mexican trade negotiator flew to Washington on Sunday for urgent talks with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to express Mexico's opposition to a labor enforcement provision in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), U.S. media reported.

Jesus Seade, undersecretary for North America of the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs, accused the United States of blindsiding Mexico by deciding to send up to five U.S. attaches to monitor labor conditions as part of the revised USMCA, The Washington Post reported on Sunday.

That decision was included in U.S. implementing legislation sent to Congress on Friday, the report said, adding that Seade had sent a letter to Lighthizer to express "Mexico's surprise and concern" about the language sent to Congress.

Seade's office confirmed to Politico that he is scheduled to meet Lighthizer on Monday. He will also meet with U.S. Democratic lawmakers to discuss the issue.

"For obvious reasons, Mexico was not consulted on this. We are not in agreement," Seade said Saturday at a press conference in Mexico City. "This is not the fruit of our bilateral negotiation."

Mexico had rejected a U.S. proposal for foreign labor inspectors during the talks to update the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), saying it would violate the country's sovereignty.

Seade's trip to Washington came after the White House on Friday sent the USMCA implementing bill to Congress, paving the way for the Democratic-led House to consider the legislation later this week.

"Approving this Agreement is in our national interest. I look forward to the Congress expeditiously approving the legislation," U.S. President Donald Trump said Friday in a statement.

While the leaders of the United States, Canada and Mexico signed the proposed USMCA more than a year ago, House Democrats have negotiated for months with Trump administration officials to resolve their concerns about enforcement tools for labor and environmental standards as well as drug provisions in the new trilateral trade deal.

Mexico's objection to the labor enforcement provision in the USMCA could complicate House Democrats' plan to ratify the agreement this week, analysts said.

[ Editor: SRQ ]