After Signing Ceremony, Mexican Negotiator Raises USMCA Issues

Published: Monday, December 16, 2019 - 3:19pm
Updated: Tuesday, December 17, 2019 - 8:31am
Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs
Jesús Seade

The signing ceremony in Mexico last week for the renegotiated NAFTA deal seemed to signal a smooth end to nearly two years of negotiations. But over the weekend, Mexico’s chief trade negotiator raised last-minute objections, prompting reassurance from the United States.

Jesus Seade was expressing concern over labor attachés that could be sent to Mexico to monitor the progress of recent labor reforms. He said he was not informed of that possibility, which was laid out in the implementing legislation for the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement sent to the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday.

On Monday, Mexico’s Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said that Seade should have been told but that doesn’t compromise its ultimate ratification.

“Is the deal in question? No,” he said Monday morning. “Was the deal changed? No.”

Later on Monday, the U.S.’s chief negotiator, Robert Lighthizer, sent a public letter to Seade saying that the attachés would aid the implementation of Mexico’s labor reforms, but would not act as labor inspectors.

Labor attachés were specifically mentioned in a memo from House Democrats touting changes made before a signing ceremony in Mexico last week.

You can read the full text of the U.S. House of Representatives implementing legislation here.

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