VTZ in collaboration with experts from Torres Law, DeForest Abogados, National Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association of America, Inc. and International Compliance Professionals Association organized the Panel Discussion (Webinar) USMA Fast Response Mechanism, which will take place on September 9, 2020 at 1:00 PM.
The expert panel will be composed by: Olga Torres, who is the Managing Member of Torres Law, she concentrates her practice in the areas international trade and national security law, anticorruption compliance, and Customs matters; Emilio Arteaga, who is a Partner at Vazquez Tercero & Zepeda Abogados, a prominent trade law firm in Mexico, his practice focuses on trade and customs law, devoting a significant amount of his practice to trade remedy investigations, as well as regulatory and Commercial Law issues; Gabriela Peregrina Espino, who is a Partner and Head of the Labor Department at DeForest Abogados, Mexico City, her practice areas include Labor and Social Security Law; as well as, Tequila Brooks who is an international labor and human rights lawyer in Washington, DC. She has written extensively on the intersection of trade, labor, and women’s rights and is co-author of the 2019 book NAFTA and NAALC: Twenty-Five Years of Trade-Labour Linkage (2d Edition).
USMCA Panel Discussion
The panelists will discuss the rapid response mechanism with a focus on what American companies need to know to ensure issues are avoided. This novel mechanism provides a new tool in the U.S. – Mexican labor disputes and it is the first of its kind in a free trade agreement. Ultimately, a successful petition could end up in denial of USMCA preferential treatment, denial of entry, and other sanctions.
This webinar will provide:
-Overview of mechanism and requirements
-Overview of Mexican labor law
-Tips on how American companies can prepare
-Recommendations for Mexican Covered Facilities
Please clic the following link: https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/248680252288745486
The members of the panel will discuss the results of USMCA’s labor chapter, the rapid response mechanism as well as whether there is any other labor-related risk to Mexico-US international trade relation. Next, the panel will turn to the recent amendments to Mexican labor law related to freedom of association and collective bargaining. Taking into account the response mechanism and current labor environment in Mexico, the Panel will discuss whether the “priority sectors” are taking the necessary steps to minimize labor-related trade risks? Finally, members of the panel will discuss the future relationship between trade and labor lawyers, including cross borders.
Ricardo Aranda Girard is Director General for International Trade Disciplines in the Under-Secretariat for Foreign Trade of Mexico’s Secretariat of Economy. Ricardo was the Mexican negotiator in charge of the Environment and Labor Chapters of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). He has also been responsible for the negotiations of the Environment Chapter of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Transpacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the TBT chapters of the Pacific Alliance, the Mexico-Panama Free Trade Agreement, and the Mexico-Cuba Partial Scope Agreement.
Gabriela Peregrina is a partner at Deforest Abogados, her practice focuses on Labor Law. Gabriela has experience in labor litigation, audits, subcontracting, training workshops, as well as negotiating with different unions in Mexico.
Olga Torres is the Managing Member of Torres Law, PLLC. Ms. Torres concentrates her practice in the areas of international trade and national security law, anti-corruption compliance, and Customs matters. In the area of customs, Ms. Torres advises clients on import compliance matters, including customs rulings, classification, country of origin, special duty programs such as NAFTA, focused assessments, C-TPAT, and seizures of goods by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. She also assists with antidumping/countervailing duty matters before the Import Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Emilio Arteaga, VTZ junior partner and member of the USMBA, will be the moderator of this webinar. Mr. Arteaga’s practice specializes in international trade and business, such as anti-dumping, rules of origin, origin checks, non-tariff restrictions, international contracts, among other topics.
A few days after the protocol amending USMCA was signed, a new controversy arose between Mexico and the USA at the weekend due to USMCA’s implementing act in the USA.
In essence, Mexican negotiator, Jesus Seade, wrote a letter stating that Mexico considered that the legislation went “beyond” the protocol since the USA was considering to include “labor inspectors” in Mexico.
In response, USTR mentioned that the USMCA’s authorized “domestic measures” such as having “Attachés”. In fact, US attachés currently operate in Mexico in different sectors or matters, such as agricultural, commerce, among others.
The existence of a maximum of 5 labor Attachés is planned, according to the USTR response and US legislation. The Attachés “will 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.”
Undersecretary Seade thanked the “clarity” of USTR’s response, considered that the Attachées will be 90% harmless and pointed out that the Attachées would abide by Mexican law.
The Modification Protocol to USMCA provides for Facility-Specific Rapid Response Labor Mechanism, which will operate independently.
Our labor expert, Rafael Alday, prepared an alert (only available in Spanish), addressing this mechanism briefly.
Under this context, it is clear that Mexico will have comprehensive monitoring of compliance with labor laws, particularly on unions and collective bargaining rights. In the same vein, Ricardo Ramírez, a former member of the WTO Appellate Body, said that never before a system so intrusive and with strict surveillance of labor legislation in another country had been established.
On Tuesday, the USMCA implementation act was approved by the Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives, meanwhile, the House approved the act yesterday. Now, the Senate needs to vote on the act, but this will occur after the impeachment process that US President Donald Trump is facing according to media outlets.
The Mexican Minister of Economy mentioned in Twitter that the US Senate will vote on January 2020.
This Monday, VTZ and Adrián Vázquez participated in the Mexico-China Economic and Commercial Cooperation Forum organized by the Mexican Business Council for Foreign Trade, Investment and Technology (acronym COMCE) and the Chinese Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT). Detailed information about the plenary is available here.
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This Tuesday a letter directed to the USTR was issued by US Congress representative Richard Neal Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, mentioning that members are concerned with USMCA, calling for strong labor and environment standards that can be enforceable.
Kenneth Smith former Mexican USMCA chief negotiator responded that USMCA now includes labor and environment chapters that are subject to a dispute settlement, hence, they have “teeth”; plus there is an annex that sets specific obligations to Mexico regarding collective bargaining rights and freedom of association.
And this week Mexico took an important step to overcome these “political” obstacles regarding USMCA ratification, since the Mexican Chamber of deputies “approved” the amendments to the Mexican Labor Law this Thursday that will overhaul the labor justice system and aim to be compatible with recently ratified ILO’s 98 Convention (on freedom of association and collective bargaining) and Mexico’s commitments under USMCA. Now it is the turn for Senate to discuss the labor reform.
The Ministry of Economy held a press conference to address the issue concerning the termination of the suspension agreement next May 7th, 2019. Graciela Marquéz, the Minister of Economy, informed that Mexico is not a party to the suspension agreement, but that the government will “assist” Mexican tomato producers in this situation, noting the importance of the Mexican tomato; for instance, exports to the USA represent about 3 billion USD. The suspension agreement avoided the imposition of an antidumping duty of about 17.5% back in 1996, duties that may be imposed as of May 7th; in order to avoid again this situation, the Mexican industry submitted last week a suspension agreement that apparently is not being considered by Department according to statements made in the press conference.