Mexico’s president vows wage growth, labour reform funding in push for trade deal | Money

Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador holds a news conference at the National Palace in Mexico City June 6, 2019. — Reuters pic
Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador holds a news conference at the National Palace in Mexico City June 6, 2019. — Reuters pic

MEXICO CITY, Oct 18 — Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador vowed yesterday wage increases and funding for the implementation of labour reforms, part of a campaign to convince US Democratic lawmakers to ratify a new North American trade deal.

“I assure you that this government intends to continue increasing wages by at least two percentage points above the inflation rate each year,” Lopez Obrador said in a letter to House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal, a Massachusetts Democrat.

Lopez Obrador said he has asked Mexico’s Finance Ministry, the Lower House of Congress and local lawmakers to increase the budget to “ensure that it is sufficient” to implement the labour reform.

Mexico’s Deputy Foreign Minister for North America, Jesus Seade, said the budget will be increased by some 23 per cent for that purpose.

“Similarly, if more funds are needed to implement the proposed changes, you can be assured that I will take the necessary steps with Congress to guarantee the additional funds,” said Lopez Obrador.

Mexico’s finance and labour ministries have requested some US$69 million (RM289.3 million) in additional budgetary funds for 2020 to create new institutions and implement the reforms, including money for labour courts and conciliation centres, as well as training.

“I’m very pleased with Mexico’s demonstration of good faith and the details President Lopez Obrador has shared regarding Mexico’s plans and strategy for implementation,” Neal said in a statement.

After leading a US congressional delegation to Mexico City on October 8 to meet with Lopez Obrador and other top officials, Neal suggested Mexico was not doing enough to implement its labor reform.

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said earlier in the day that lawmakers were getting closer to an agreement with the administration of President Donald Trump on revisions to the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) deal.

“I can honestly say that I think every day we are becoming closer,” Pelosi said at her weekly news conference. “The issue is do we have enforcement. We feel very good about being on a path to yes.”

Pelosi added: “We’re not there yet because we don’t have the enforceability assurance that we need to have. While we have some good things in the bill, it’s only a list of good things unless it can be enforced.”

The USMCA, which would replace the US$1 trillion North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta), risks getting bogged down in the 2020 US presidential election race if US lawmakers do not ratify it soon.

The deal was negotiated last year after Trump said the existing Nafta deal was unfavorable to US workers and businesses.

In a letter addressed to Pelosi, Lopez Obrador called for ratification “soon” so as to avoid having the electoral process in the United States “impede or delay” its finalisation. — Reuters

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