Washington: The United States announced
on Friday it would file a case against Guatemala for apparent
labour rights violations under a central American free trade
This is the first labour case the United States has ever
brought against a trade agreement partner, President Barack
Obama`s top trade official said.
"Today, I am announcing that the Obama administration
will file a case against Guatemala under our trade agreement
with Central America and the Dominican Republic, for apparent
violations of obligations on labour rights," US Trade
Representative Ron Kirk said in a speech in Pennsylvania.
He said the case would send "a strong message" to US
trading partners to protect their own workers and that the
Obama administration "will not tolerate labour violations that
place US workers at a disadvantage."
"We are prepared to enforce the full spectrum of American
trade rights from labour to the environment," he said.
Kirk said that the United States was also "very
concerned" that the problem of labour-related violence was
becoming "increasingly serious" in Guatemala.
"We will be working with partners across the Obama
administration to examine and take up this issue with
Guatemala as well in the near future," he said.
The Guatemala government`s apparent failure to
effectively enforce its labour laws harmed US workers by
forcing them to compete against "substandard labour practices
and tilts the playing field away from American workers and
businesses," Kirk charged.
"By holding the government of Guatemala accountable to
its labour commitments under the CAFTA-DR we can help to
ensure that US businesses and workers are able to compete on
fair terms," he added.