MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Tuesday pushed back against U.S. attempts to subject Mexico to oversight of its labor market, and said the Mexican Senate should be consulted before changes to a new North American trade deal are signed off.
Mexico approved the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) earlier this year, but U.S. ratification has been held up by Democratic lawmakers seeking stricter enforcement of new Mexican labor rules enshrined in the deal.
Speaking at his regular morning news conference, Lopez Obrador said his government was committed to strengthening workers’ rights and that Mexican senators should be able to review the final agreements reached on USMCA.
“Because the Senate must in any case ratify what is an addendum (to the accord),” the president said.
Mexico would not accept having inspectors supervise implementation of its new labor laws, he said. But Mexico was open to having labor disputes reviewed by panels made up of representatives from, for example, Mexico and the United States.
Gearing up for the 2020 U.S. presidential election, Democrats have been under pressure from American trade unions to ensure that Mexico does not backslide on commitments to strengthen the rights of organized labor in the country.
U.S. unions want to set conditions for workers south of the border that make it harder for companies to move production to lower-cost Mexico, where manufacturing capacity has increased significantly over the last two decades.