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On June 2, the CAFTA-DR arbitral panel held a dispute settlement hearing in Guatemala City in the first-ever labor enforcement case brought under a U.S. trade agreement. The hearing followed two rounds of written exchanges between the United States and Guatemala regarding the labor dispute, brought by the United States under the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR). The United States maintains that Guatemala has breached Article 16.2.1(a) of the CAFTA-DR, which requires each Party to “not fail to effectively enforce its labor laws through a sustained or recurring course of action or inaction in a manner affecting trade between the Parties.”
The Guatemala labor enforcement case was initiated following a public submission by the AFL-CIO and six Guatemalan labor organizations to the United States under the CAFTA-DR. The submission outlined concerns regarding Guatemala’s failure to effectively enforce its labor laws in key export sectors including apparel, agriculture, and shipping port services, and described the impact of this failure on Guatemalan workers.
The United States is committed to working together with Guatemala to ensure that its laws directly related to the right of association, the right to organize and bargain collectively, and acceptable conditions of work are effectively enforced to effect change on the ground. Protecting labor rights is a core priority of the President’s trade agenda, and the Office of the United States Trade Representative continues to work to raise labor standards with our trading partners in all of our trade agreements.
To view a video of the hearing in English or in Spanish, please click here.
For additional information on the Guatemala labor enforcement case, please click here.
To read Ambassador Froman’s remarks on the occasion of proceeding with the Guatemala Labor Enforcement Case, click here.