US and Canada Round on Mexico in the latest NAFTA talks

By Elliot Bullman

Labour and market access proposals from both countries have put Mexico´s private sector on alert, during the fourth day of negotiations.

On Tuesday, the third round of negotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement saw two proposals that put the Mexican private sector on alert. On the one hand Canada sought a renegotiation on labour and wage standards, and on the other hand, the United States sought to limit Mexican agricultural exports by seasonality.

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It is the first "aggression" received by Mexico´s agri-food sector in the talks and one of the biggest threats to Mexico in the negotiations, according to Bosco de la Vega, president of the National Agricultural Council.

The proposal from the US delegation stems from pressures of Florida strawberry growers and Georgia blueberries, who demand that the access of Mexican products to that market be restricted to certain seasons so that they do not coincide with their crop harvests.

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De la Vega vehemently opposed the move saying that Mexico is opposed to seasonal control of its exports.

During the first four days of the third round, the leading trade union leaders in the United States and Canada were close to the negotiators in their countries pushing the idea of ​​raising labour standards, including wages.

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Interviewed at the headquarters of the negotiations in Ottawa, Canada, the country's largest trade union leader, Jerry Dias, insisted that the jobs that have been lost in Canadian industry are due to low wages in Mexico.

In the labour field, he said, the Canadian proposal is tougher than the one put forward in the Transpacific Partnership Treaty (TPP). De la Vega confirmed that Mexico will not accept an imposition in wages and warned that each country must respect its salary subjects.

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Also defending itself from the US proposal in the agri-food sector, Mexico could counteract the US´s attempt to impose a seasonal fruit embargo by appealing the importation of legs and thighs of chicken and pork which are under review for possible dumping practices, says Juan Carlos Anaya, director of Grupo Consultor Agricultural Markets (GCMA).

Sales of these products to Mexico account for approximately 80% of US production, and if they are found to enter the country at a price lower than their domestic market, Mexico could apply countervailing duties.

The talks continue in Washington next month.

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