Guatemala Submission under CAFTA-DR
The United States will proceed with its labor enforcement case against Guatemala under the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) to address Guatemala’s failure to effectively enforce its labor laws. The United States decided to continue the dispute settlement case and reconvene the arbitral panel after Guatemala failed to fully implement the 18-point Enforcement Plan it signed with the United States in April 2013, despite taking important steps. The Enforcement Plan included concrete actions to improve labor law enforcement that Guatemala needed to take within specific time frames, such as:
- strengthening labor inspections,
- expediting and streamlining the process of sanctioning employers and ordering remediation of labor violations,
- increasing labor law compliance by exporting companies,
- improving the monitoring and enforcement of labor court orders,
- publishing labor law enforcement information, and
- establishing mechanisms to ensure that workers are paid what they are owed when factories close.
A panel decision is expected early next year.
In April 2008, the Department of Labor (DOL) received a submission from the AFL-CIO and six Guatemalan worker organizations alleging that Guatemala had violated its obligation under the CAFTA-DR to effectively enforce its labor laws. After reviewing the submission, DOL issued a public report in January 2009 finding significant weaknesses in Guatemala's labor law enforcement and making specific recommendations for improvement.
In July 2010, after Guatemala's actions proved insufficient to address the concerns raised in the report, the United States requested consultations with Guatemala under the CAFTA-DR. The consultations failed to resolve the matter, and the United States requested the establishment of an arbitral panel in August 2011. The Parties suspended the panel while attempting to negotiate a comprehensive Enforcement Plan.
- Enforcement Plan
- Read the Enforcement Plan
- Read the Blog Post: "For Guatemalan Workers, A Ray of Hope"
- Read the USTR Fact Sheet (PDF)
- Read the Press Release
- Arbitral Panel
- USTR Press Release on Enforcement Action [09/16/2014]
- Remarks by Deputy Secretary Christopher Lu
- Remarks by U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman
- Labor Commitments in Trade Agreements: "More than Words on a Page" [DOL blog post]
- Model Rules of Procedure
- Read the USTR Press Release on the Arbitration Panel
- Read Secretary Solis’ Press Release
- Read the USTR Press Release on the Free Trade Commission Meeting (PDF)
- Labor Consultations
- Background on CAFTA-DR
The United States, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua signed the CAFTA-DR in August 2004, which entered into force for Guatemala in July 2006.
For more information about the CAFTA-DR, please visit the USTR Web site.