By: Daniel Watson
Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Office of Western Hemisphere
Office of the United States Trade Representative
Last week, Ambassador Katherine Tai and members of the USTR team traveled to Mexico City to commemorate the first anniversary of the entry-into-force of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. In Mexico City, Ambassador Tai held her first in-person meetings with Mexico’s Secretary of Economy Tatiana Clouthier and Canada’s Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade Mary Ng.
Just before the trip, Ambassador Tai hosted a bilateral meeting with Minister Ng.
This trip reinforced our bilateral trade relationships with both countries and emphasized our commitment to working together to build a more competitive, inclusive, and resilient North American economic partnership.
This visit was made possible after extensive planning and coordination by USTR staff in Washington and the newly established USTR Mexico office, Embassy staff in Mexico City, and our counterparts in Mexico and Canada. They were preceded by the first meetings of the USMCA Environment Committee and Labor Council.
The trip included:
- A meeting with Mexico’s Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development Victor Villalobos and Mexico’s Secretary of Economy Tatiana Clouthier;
- Bilateral meetings with Secretary Clouthier, Mexico's Secretary of Labor and Social Welfare Luisa María Alcalde Luján, and Mexico's Secretary of Foreigner Affairs Marcelo Ebrard;
- A trilateral inclusive trade event roundtable hosted by Secretary Clouthier;
- A tour of the Federal Center for Conciliation and Labor Registration and a federal labor court and meetings with the Director General of the Federal Center and Labor Justices;
- A roundtable with members of the Solidarity Center and a group of labor experts, workers, and union leaders; and
- A roundtable with the American Chamber of Commerce of Mexico.
During these events and meetings, Ambassador Tai highlighted the importance of a worker-centered trade policy and emphasized the importance of worker rights in trade policy and the implementation of the USMCA’s labor commitments.
Towards the end of the trip, we were pleased that the United States and Mexico jointly announced a remediation plan to address the denial of the right of free association and collective bargaining to workers at a General Motors facility in Silao, Mexico. USTR is committed to using all available trade tools to ensure that our trade agreements are more than words on paper. The action will help workers in Mexico exercise their rights, and help American workers by preventing trade from becoming a race to the bottom. We look forward to working with Mexico to ensure workers’ rights are respected and upheld.
The joint announcement earned broad praise:
U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh: “If we are to succeed in protecting workers’ rights at home, we must ensure that those rights will not be undermined by exploitative labor practices and violations of collective bargaining rights around the world,” he said.” [Statement, 7/9/21]
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (MA-01): “We fought hard during USMCA negotiations to include proactive, aggressive enforcement tools. Ambassador Tai knows these tools and how important enforcing the USMCA is to its overall success, and the success of our three nations.” [Statement, 7/9/21]
Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sherrod Brown: “For decades, Ohioans have seen factories shuttered and their jobs shipped overseas because of trade policies that put corporations first. I wrote the Brown–Wyden provision to deliver results for American workers, and that’s what it’s doing.” [Statement, 7/9/21]
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden: @SenSherrodBrown and I wrote the law to protect workers’ rights with fast, effective enforcement. Glad @AmbassadorTai is using that law to fix violations at a GM plant in Silao, Mexico. We will continue to monitor this case to ensure there are meaningful improvements for workers. [Twitter, 7/9/21]
UAW President Ray Curry and UAW Vice President Terry Dittes Director of the UAW General Motors Department: “This isn’t just sound economics for our communities, but it allows workers making the products we consume, the opportunity to earn good wages and benefits, work in a safe environment, and have the right to organize. Likewise, workers in Mexico deserve the right to democratically elected union representation and collectively bargained wages and conditions.” [Statement, 7/9/21]
General Motors: “General Motors is pleased that Mexico has completed its review of the union’s vote on a collective bargaining agreement at our plant in Silao and that the US and Mexico agreed on a remediation plan to support a free and fair vote in August.” [Statement, 7/8/21]
We recognize the importance of collaboration and cooperation in implementing the USMCA’s obligations and are committed to ongoing engagement through an honest and open dialogue.