U.S., Mexico quickly mend rift over North American trade deal

U.S., Mexico quickly mend rift over North American trade deal

WASHINGTON — The United States and Mexico moved quickly Monday to defuse a dispute over President Donald Trump’s revamped North American trade pact.

At issue are five labour attaches the United States intends to send to Mexico to oversee the Mexican government’s labour reforms. Those plans were revealed Friday when the U.S. published the implementing legislation for the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement — the legal text of the pact that the U.S. Congress will vote on.

Over the weekend, Mexico’s top trade negotiator, Jesus Seade, complained that Mexico had been blindsided by the provision on the attaches.

All along, Mexican negotiators have rejected the idea that American officials could roam the country, inspecting factories to make sure Mexico was living up to commitments to let workers organize unions and bargain for higher wages and better working conditions.

Seade took to Twitter declare: “Mexico will NEVER accept them if it is in any way about disguised inspectors, for one simple reason: Mexican law prohibits it.”

It was unclear what Mexico could actually do about the attaches: Its Senate had already ratified the trade agreement. Seade said the U.S. attaches were not mentioned in the pact the Mexicans had agreed to.

On Monday, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer wrote a letter reassuring Seade that “these personnel will not be `labour inspectors’ and will abide by all relevant Mexican laws.”

“My suspicion is that these attaches will take a big-picture view and focus on egregious situations and point those out and give notice to the Mexican government,” said Miguel Noyola, a partner at Baker & McKenzie LLP, who specializes in business in Mexico and Latin America. “I don’t think they will just be going on fishing expeditions.”

And Seade, after meeting with Lighthizer in Washington Monday, told reporters: “I am satisfied. And I called the authorities in Mexico, and they are satisfied.”

Earlier, Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard minimized the dispute saying that the pact remained intact” and Mexico did not feel tricked by the provision on the attaches.

The USMCA replaces the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement, which tore down most trade barriers between the United States, Canada and Mexico. NAFTA triggered a surge in trade between the three countries. But Trump and other critics said it cost the United States jobs by encouraging factories to move south of the border to take advantage of low-wage Mexican labourers, who were largely prevented from forming independent unions.

Trump demanded a rewrite and strong-armed Mexico and Canada into going along and signing USMCA. But the revamped regional trade deal needs to be approved by the U.S. Congress, and Democrats in the House demanded — and got — beefed-up language meant to ensure that Mexico goes through with promised labour reforms, including those designed to encourage independent unions.

Daniel Ujczo, chair of the international practice at Dickinson Wright PLLC in Columbus, Ohio, said there was “some theatre in all of this as a result of the Democrats taking victory laps last week. It is making it difficult for Mexico to save face in light of some significant, yet necessary, concessions to get the deal done.” It was, he said, “necessary for Mexico to show some pushback.”

Just Posted

RCMP looking for these two suspects
Police looking for suspects who stole truck in central Alberta

A Ford F350 was stolen out of Blackfalds on June 9. Two… Continue reading

An excavator is tearing up old parking lots at the Michener Centre north site. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).
Demolition gets underway at Michener Centre’s north site

Some people are nostaligic, but not everyone is sad to see it go

The Red Deer Indian Industrial school stood off Burnt Lake Trail and across the Red Deer River from Fort Normandeau. The residential school is known to have lost at least 70 students through illness, poor sanitation and nutrition. (Advocate file photo)
Some Indigenous leaders say SNC-Lavalin can’t make up to First Nations people with offer of help

Quebec company is connected to MP Jody Wilson-Raybould allegations

RCMP are looking for this 30-year-old missing woman.
Red Deer RCMP looking for missing woman

The Red Deer RCMP are asking for the public’s assistance to locate… Continue reading

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) blocks a shot by Vegas Golden Knights left wing William Carrier (28) during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday in Las Vegas. (Photo by The Associated Press)
Canadiens take 4-1 loss to Vegas Golden Knights in Stanley Cup semifinal opener

Golden Knights 4 Canadiens 1 (Las Vegas leads series 1-0) LAS VEGAS… Continue reading

Philadelphia 76ers' coach Doc Rivers yells to his players during the first half of Game 4 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks, Monday, June 14, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Young leads Hawks’ rally past Sixers with Embiid hurting

Hawks 103 76ers 100 ATLANTA — Trae Young overcame a cold start… Continue reading

Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback Chris Streveler pushes away Hamilton Tiger-Cats' Cariel Brooks during the second half of the 107th Grey Cup in Calgary, Alta., Sunday, November 24, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
CFL board of governors votes unanimously to start 2021 season in August after meeting

The CFL says professional football will return to Canada in August. The… Continue reading

Boston Red Sox's Rafael Devers looks toward teammates while celebrating after his winning RBI-single in the bottom of the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park, Monday, June 14, 2021, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Vlad Jr homers to tie it, Red Sox top Blue Jays in 9th, 2-1

BOSTON — Rafael Devers hit a line drive off the Green Monster… Continue reading

A health-care worker holds up a sign signalling she needs more COVID-19 vaccines at the 'hockey hub' mass vaccination facility at the CAA Centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Brampton, Ont., on June 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Experts divided on easing COVID-19 rules for fully vaccinated adults

As provinces accelerate their efforts to get their populations fully vaccinated against… Continue reading

In this artist's sketch, Nathaniel Veltman makes a video court appearance in London, Ont., on June 10, 2021 as Justice of the Peace Robert Seneshen (top left) and lawyer Alayna Jay look on. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alexandra Newbould
Terror charges laid against man accused in London attack against Muslim family

A vehicle attack against a Muslim family in southwestern Ontario that left… Continue reading

Deputy Prime Minister, not shown, and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland joins Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as they participate in a virtual discussion from Ottawa on Monday, May 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Liberals move to cut debate, force vote on bill to implement 2021 budget

OTTAWA — The Trudeau Liberals’ sweeping budget bill is moving faster to… Continue reading

The Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Dartmouth, N.S. on Thursday, June 3, 2021. A new study in England suggests the Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines are extremely good at keeping people from ending up in the hospital with COVID-19, even after just one dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Pfizer, AstraZeneca preventing hospitalizations from Delta variant in Britain

OTTAWA — A new study in England suggests even just one dose… Continue reading

Most Read