Mexico’s president vows to improve labor standards

PUERTO VALLARTA, Mexico 

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said in a letter published Thursday that the country is committed to holding up its side of the bargain for the proposed trade deal between Mexico, the United States and Canada. 

As part of the trade agreement, the White House has mandated that Mexico improves labor standards. The new trade deal would replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). 

In the letter, which was addressed to U.S. House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, Obrador vowed to promote labor law reforms in the country, such as continuing to increase the minimum wage and trying to “restore democracy” to trade unions. He added that the Mexican government would also make sure the projects are sufficiently funded. 

“The labor reforms that are underway today… will put Mexico at the forefront of labor rights in Latin America and will guarantee union democracy and the rights of union members as has not been done in more than three decades,” Obrador wrote in the letter. 

Mexico relies heavily on trade with the United States, with about 80% of its exports going to the country. 

Over the past several months, Obrador has been outspoken in his support for the ratification of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). 

“The…USMCA will unquestionably benefit millions of Mexicans, Americans and Canadians by improving the competitiveness of the entire region,” he said in the letter. 

U.S. President Donald Trump needs the green light from House Democrats before the passage of the USMCA. But Democrats have stalled its passage over concerns that Mexico would not follow the new agreement’s rules, such as improving labor standards. 

In response to the concerns, Obrador met earlier this month in Mexico City with Neal and several other House Democrats. He followed up with the letter to Neal to reaffirm Mexico’s commitment. 

“I’m very pleased with Mexico’s demonstration of good faith and the details President Lopez Obrador has shared regarding Mexico’s plan and strategy for implementation,” Neal said in a press release about the letter. 

Democrats are now saying they are coming closer to completing negotiations on the new trade deal.
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