Washington, Jun. 22 (Notimex) – White House Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer today accepted the suggestion by Democratic lawmakers to seek to negotiate the inclusion of enforceable labor standards within the modernization of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
“We hope to negotiate an agreement that has labor standards that can be achieved,” he said to the members of the House Committee on Means and Procedures after repeated comments from Democrats on the subject of the pay gap between Mexican and American workers.
Michigan Democrat Sander Levin reminded to Lighthizer that Mexican workers earn, on average, just 19 percent of the salaries that Americans receive for similar job positions at major US car companies.
“Do I believe that Mexican labor laws have had a negative effect on the United States?” Asked the White House trade representative. “Yes, I think so,” immediately he replied to himself.
“If we are going to lower the deficit, if we are going to have an appropriate agreement, that can be approved, it has to have an effect on that … The Mexican government understands that there is a problem and they are taking measures which I believe is a good sign “he added.
Lighthizer said that the position of the US President Donald Trump and that of the Democrats on labor standards “are not far off each.”
Although some Democrats suggested conditioning for the start of NAFTA negotiations to reach agreement on labor issues, the trade representative made it clear that legally it is not possible because he cannot negotiate anything before August 16.
In contrast, Republican lawmakers called on the trade representative to not to risk the success of NAFTA for the US agricultural sector during negotiations.
“Our trade agreements, including NAFTA, have been tremendously successful,” recalled Texas Media House chairman Kevin Brady.
“They have created US jobs, lowered consumer prices, and helped our businesses to compete in agriculture, services, and manufacturing. We have to take action to strengthen our current agreements, “added the legislator.
Lighthizer assured members of the Committee that one of the objectives of the NAFTA negotiations would be not to affect US agricultural exports to Mexico.
“It is very important that we do no harm to the agricultural sector, our highest priority will be to avoid damaging sales in agricultural products,” said the official, who said he understood the concerns of US farmers about possible commercial retaliation in Mexico.