Washington, DC – United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer sent the following letter today regarding the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) to Jesús Seade, Mexico’s Under Secretary for North America and Chief Trade Negotiator for North America:
December 16, 2019
The Honorable Jesús Seade Kuri
Under Secretary for North America and
Chief Trade Negotiator for North America
Mexico City, Mexico
Dear Under Secretary Seade:
I write in response to your letter of December 14, 2019 regarding implementing legislation the Trump Administration submitted to Congress last week in connection with the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
As is typical for U.S. embassies in major foreign capitals, the United States Embassy in Mexico presently houses attachés from over a dozen federal agencies, including personnel from the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Treasury, and Justice. These individuals provide technical expertise to support the diplomatic mission of the United States in Mexico. The U.S. Government has stationed personnel in various embassies around the world, including in Mexico, to assist foreign governments in improving work conditions. Mexico, in turn, has many attachés stationed in the United States from the Mexican Interior Secretariat, the National Defense Secretariat, the Security and Civilian Protection Secretariat, the Attorney General’s Office, the National Intelligence Center, the Economy Secretariat, the Secretariat of Agricultural and Rural Development, the Tax Administration Service, and the Finance Intelligence Unit. The Administration included language in the USMCA implementing legislation authorizing up to five attachés from the Department of Labor to work with their Mexican counterparts, workers, and civil society groups on implementation of the Mexican labor reform, including by providing technical assistance and disbursing capacity building funds, and provide assistance to the new U.S. government interagency labor committee. These personnel will not be “labor inspectors” and will abide by all relevant Mexican laws.
As you know, the USMCA’s first-of-its-kind, facility-specific, rapid-response mechanism allows an independent, three-person panel chosen by both Parties to request on-site verifications in any of our three countries when there are good faith questions about whether workers at a particular facility are being denied key labor rights. But those verifications will be conducted by the independent panelists not by the labor attachés.
USMCA is a great agreement for the United States and Mexico. I look forward to working with you and your colleagues to ensure that the agreement enters into force as quickly as possible.
Robert E. Lighthizer