Neal, Pascrell Statements on Guatemala Labor Report

Jun 26, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Richard Neal (D-MA) and Trade Subcommittee Ranking Member Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ) today released the following statements after a Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) panel issued its report regarding Guatemala’s compliance with the labor provisions in CAFTA:

"Today’s decision is detrimental to the global trading system and flies in the face of the facts on the ground in Guatemala and a reasonable interpretation of the labor provisions in CAFTA,” said Ranking Member Neal. “The panel simply got it wrong. Its rationale casts serious doubt on the effectiveness of many obligations in our trade agreements – beyond just labor and environmental provisions. The decision is another disappointing instance in a long line of cases in which international trade tribunals have seemed more interested in promoting completely unfettered trade, rather than enforcing the rules.”

“This case was a slam dunk. Guatemala is one of the worst countries in the world for workers, where the average wage is lower than the legal minimum wage,” said Trade Subcommittee Ranking Member Pascrell. “This dubious track record was a primary reason I voted against CAFTA. Yet, inconceivably, this tribunal decided to conclude that Guatemala was living up to the labor obligations in CAFTA. The decision takes the enforcement of labor commitments in trade agreements to a new low. Not only did the dispute take more than nine years to conclude, but it raises new questions about the basic meaning of labor and other provisions in our trade agreements. We cannot let trade agreements allow a race to the bottom on labor standards. More must be done by the Congress and this Administration to effectively enforce our trade agreements.”