Washington, D.C. - U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez met today with Guatemalan Trade Minister Sergio de la Torre and Guatemalan Labor Minister Carlos Contreras to discuss the implementation of the Labor Enforcement Plan signed between the two countries.
"We will continue to work with our partners to strengthen enforcement of labor rights in Guatemala," said Ambassador Froman. "Today's meeting was an important opportunity to assess what progress has been made and where further efforts are necessary."
Since the Enforcement Plan was agreed to, the Guatemalan government has taken a variety of measures including hiring 100 additional inspectors and passing important legal reforms, including reforms to ensure police assistance to facilitate labor inspector access to worksites and to verify employer compliance with labor court orders. Ambassador Froman made clear that the United States believes further action is urgently needed to implement the Enforcement Plan. If these concerns are not addressed by April 25, the United States reserves the right to restart the dispute settlement proceedings that were suspended as a result of the Enforcement Plan.
In 2011, the United States requested a Dispute Settlement panel against Guatemala under the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) in order to ensure enforcement of that country's labor laws. It was the first such action taken by the United States under the labor provisions of a free trade agreement.
On April 26, 2013, the United States and Guatemala signed the 18-point Enforcement Plan outlining concrete actions to strengthen labor law enforcement in Guatemala, which Guatemala committed to implement within six months. Guatemala has adopted a number of reforms, consistent with applicable deadlines, but implementation of those reforms is key to improving worker rights in Guatemala.
For more details regarding this process, please click here.