Mexico trade negotiator: We’ll never accept US ‘inspectors’

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s trade negotiator for North America said last Sunday that Mexico categorically opposes allowing foreign labour inspectors to operate in the country, saying that was not contemplated in the recent agreement with Washington and Ottawa on the USMCA pact to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Jesús Seade was flying to Washington to meet with United States (US) Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and US lawmakers to express his country’s “surprise and concern” over language in implementation legislation introduced last Friday in the US Congress calling for the posting of up to five labour attaches to monitor Mexico’s labour reform.

Seade, an undersecretary in the Foreign Relations Department, said on Twitter that while the proposed attaches exact functions are not yet clear, “Mexico will NEVER accept them if it is in any way about disguised inspectors, for one simple reason: Mexican law prohibits it.”

Mexican negotiators have said they stood firm in opposition to the idea of letting in foreign inspectors out of sovereignty principles. Instead the agreement signed on December 10 in Mexico City called for three-person panels to field any disputes, with the panels including one person from Mexico, one from the US and a person from a third country chosen by mutual consent. Mexico’s Senate quickly passed the amended version of the deal last week.

After Seade raised objections last Saturday to the language in the US legislation and announced his sudden trip to Washington, critics suggested he and others in President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s government had overlooked something in the trade agreement and approved it too hastily.

Mexico’s Treasury Secretary Arturo Herrera (L) Deputy Prime Minister of Canada Chrystia Freeland (2nd L), Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (C), Mexico’s top trade negotiator Jesus Seade (2nd R), and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, hold the documents after signing an update to the North American Free Trade Agreement, at the national palace in Mexico City on December 10. PHOTO: AP