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USMCA Signed, Labor Dept. Grants Mexico $27M to Ensure ‘Level Playing Field’

With the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) now ratified in the U.S., the Department of Labor (DOL) announced it is providing up to $27.2 million in grant funding to help Mexico meet its labor rights obligations under the deal.

This includes the effective enforcement of Mexico’s labor laws, and addressing child labor and forced labor in its supply chains. The grants also support implementation of Mexico labor reforms that passed last year in compliance with its commitments under the USMCA labor chapter and annex on collective bargaining.

“The department is committed to vigorously enforcing the labor obligations in our trade agreements,” Martha E. Newton, deputy undersecretary for international affairs at DOL, said. “These grants help us to ensure a fair playing field for U.S. workers and to safeguard the dignity of work at home and abroad.”

To assist Mexico in fulfilling its USMCA labor commitments, grant activities will focus on implementing critical labor justice reforms to strengthen enforcement of labor laws, including by training the labor inspectorate and supporting the new Federal Center for Conciliation and Labor Registration, as well as developing the technical capacity of these institutions.

DOL said the grants will also help the Mexican government implement USMCA-related reforms to establish more democratic and transparent processes for collective bargaining and union representation, such as secret ballot voting for leaders, representation challenges and collective bargaining agreements.

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Many of the projects focus on building the capacity of the Mexican government to effectively enforce and administer its labor laws. They will include efforts targeting the agriculture sector, a key sector in Mexico’s trade relationship with the U.S.

The programming will also support implementation of a national child labor survey that will provide the Mexican government with important information about the prevalence of this abusive practice and where it is occurring.

The grants will be made available through the Bureau of International Labor Affairs, whose mission is to promote a fair global playing field for workers in the U.S. and around the world by enforcing trade commitments, strengthening labor standards and combating international child labor, forced labor and human trafficking.

The retail industry’s largest trade group applauded passage of the “new NAFTA.”

“We believe this agreement will bring continued decades of economic prosperity that will benefit American consumers and the millions of U.S. workers whose jobs depend on the free flow of trade with our nation’s two closest trading partners,” Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the National Retail Federation, said.

“We hope to see the Canadian Parliament ratify the USMCA as soon as possible so the benefits of free trade in North America can continue uninterrupted,” he added.