PROSPECT OF LABOR REFORMS FIZZLES IN MEXICO

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[ Crista Huff| September 23, 2016 | Goodfellow]

It appears that labor reforms will not be pushed through Mexico’s legislature this year. President Enrique Pena Nieto had pushed for labor reforms, to bring the country into compliance with TPP requirements, but the nation’s legislature has not been willing to embrace the reforms. The President has apparently lost the degree of political clout necessary to push through unpopular legislation. The overriding consensus in the Mexican government is that labor and human rights decisions should not be linked to trade deals.

It appears that labor reforms will not be pushed through Mexico’s legislature this year. President Enrique Pena Nieto had pushed for labor reforms, to bring the country into compliance with TPP requirements, but the nation’s legislature has not been willing to embrace the reforms. The President has apparently lost the degree of political clout necessary to push through unpopular legislation. The overriding consensus in the Mexican government is that labor and human rights decisions should not be linked to trade deals.

The reforms in question pertain to collective bargaining, redress for work-related grievances, and rules for union elections. Establishment of new grievance procedures would have required a constitutional amendment; a process that is slightly less difficult to accomplishment in Mexico than in the U.S.

“TPP obligates countries to enforce their labor laws … those laws must reflect the principles endorsed by the International Labor Organization in the 1998 Declaration on the Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. These principles include the right to collectively bargain and the right of union members to approve its contract with an employer.” — Inside U.S. Trade, 09-22-16

If pushed to establish a labor action plan, the Mexican legislature could refuse to ratify the TPP. Labor rights in Mexico exist at far lower levels than within many other nations, including TPP trading partners.

TTIP NEGOTIATIONS REMAIN AT A STANDSTILL

EU trade ministers met in Bratislava on September 22-23 to discuss the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The trade ministers do not expect TTIP to be completed under the Obama administration, nor within the first six months of the new U.S. president’s administration. European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom acknowledged, “All ministers expressed their doubts about being able to conclude [TTIP] before the end of the Obama presidency, and indeed it looks increasingly unlikely.”

Spokespeople for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and for President Obama, are painting a more rosy picture for the press, optimistically indicating that TTIP could be completed in 2016. However, a September 15 meeting in Brussels between U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom yielded no progress on TTIP negotiations.

Europe is waiting for significant concessions from the U.S., which have not been forthcoming. The biggest sticking points within TTIP negotiations are government procurement, services market access, sensitive agriculture tariffs, and geographic indicators.

The European Council will review the status of TTIP on October 21-22.


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