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Mexico Disputes Language in US Bill on Ratifying Trade Pact 

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Just days after agreement on a pact to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement, Mexico objected Saturday to legislation introduced in the U.S. Congress as part of an eventual ratification of the deal.

Jesus Seade, the Mexican Foreign Relations Department's undersecretary and chief trade negotiator for North America, said most of the bill is in line with the typical process of ratification, but it also “adds the designation of up to five U.S. labor attaches in Mexico tasked with monitoring the implementation of the labor reform that is under way in our country.''

Seade said that was not part of the agreement signed December 10 in Mexico City by Mexico, the United States and Canada to replace NAFTA, but was rather the product of “political decisions by the Congress and administration of the United States.''

Mexico should have been consulted but was not, Seade said, “and, of course, we are not in agreement.''

Mexico said that it resisted having foreign inspectors on its soil out of sovereignty principles, and that the agreement provided for panels to resolve disputes pertaining to labor and other areas. The three-person panels would comprise a person chosen by the United States, one by Mexico and a third-country person agreed upon by both countries.

Seade called the designation of labor attaches “unnecessary and redundant'' and said the presence of foreign officials must be authorized by the host country.

“U.S. officials accredited at their embassy and consulates in Mexico, as a labor attache could be, may not in any case have inspection powers under Mexican law,'' he added.

Sunday trip to Washington

Seade said that he sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer expressing Mexico's “surprise and concern'' over the matter and that he would travel to Washington on Sunday to convey the message personally to Lighthizer and U.S. lawmakers.

The elements of House Resolution 5430 in question “display a regrettable mistrust'' in the treaty, which was negotiated “in the spirit of good faith,'' the letter read.

“We reserve the right to review the scope and effects of these provisions, which our government and people will no doubt clearly see as unnecessary,'' it continued. “Additionally, I advise you that Mexico will evaluate not only the measures proposed in the [bill] … but the establishment of reciprocal mechanisms in defense of our country's interests.''

Mexico's Senate approved the modifications to the agreement Thursday evening 107-1.

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