"It's a clandestine proposal": President López Obrador Denies the Inclusion of Labor Attaches in the USMCA
After it came to light that the U.S. wants the inclusion of labor attaches in Mexico, Foreign Secretary Ebrard assured that the measure would first have to be accepted by Mexico and that the treaty is intact.

The objection raised by Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Jesus Seade this weekend regarding labor attaches that the U.S. intends to include in the USMCA without consulting Mexico triggered many doubts in the country. The administration of Andrés Manuel López Obrador was severely criticized for allegedly failing to carefully read the final USMCA document that was passed in the Mexican Senate on Thursday night. This morning Foreign Affairs Secretary Marcelo Ebrard and the president himself tried to clarify the doubts at the Palacio Nacional, starting with the assertion that the ratification of the USMCA was not in question.

President López Obrador went straight to the issue: "A law was sent to the United States Congress for the supervision of this treaty that mentions that every six months inspectors can come [to Mexico], which was not agreed upon in the treaty and this comes out clandestinely".

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The president clarified that the dispute does not affect the treaty and that the issue is already being dealt with "with the same method that we have used with our relations with the United States: the method of dialogue and cooperation for development". This Monday, Seade will meet in Washington D.C. with Robert Lighthizer.

Secretary Ebrard also said that the treaty will be ratified. He explained that it was sent to the U.S. House in the same terms in which it was signed and "it has no small letters; it was signed the same way".

He specified that the disagreement has to do with the rules of implementation of the treaty in the U.S.: "These are not subject to consultation with Mexico and neither will be the Mexican implementation laws".

Ebrard said the U.S. proposes that the U.S. government should appoint up to five labor attachés in Mexico to oversee implementation of Mexico's labor reform. Ebrard argued that this was not possible, as such designations would have to be made from Mexico.

According to the secretary, the U.S. authorities should have notified Seade of their intentions of including this point.

He also said that labor attachés are regulated by international instruments and affirmed that they would not be allowed to enter any facility on Mexican soil. "Our legislation does not allow it nor will it ever be allowed," he said.

As for the Undersecretary's visit to Washington, he said Seade intends to inform them that the U.S. government cannot designate these labor attachés without Mexican authorization, and that, if necessary, the Mexican government will not consult them on the implementation laws determined by Mexican Congress - which will be passed by February or March 2020.

Seade's complaint was along the same lines: that such decisions had not been consulted with Mexico and that they could not be made unilaterally. In his case, the undersecretary he was more emphatic in saying that this concept was "unnecessary and redundant", since the creation of labor panels had already been agreed upon.

This dispute called into question the role of Seade and of Congress itself. In Mexico it was said that these measures had already been introduced in the USMCA and subsequently approved by the Mexican Senate. The administration categorically rejected this assumption and, on the contrary, gave Seade strong support.

"Jesus has never lied. Jesus is a person who has been telling us exactly what is going on every day. I hope today's negotiations will bear fruit. And I reiterate that we trust Seade because he has never lied, let alone now. He has the support of Mexico to present what I am saying," said Ebrard on Monday. 

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