Labor provisions in free trade agreements establish official processes for receiving complaints ("submissions") from interested organizations that believe a trading partner is not fulfilling the labor commitments it made. In the United States, the U.S. Department of Labor, specifically the Monitoring & Enforcement of Trade Agreements Division within ILAB's Office of Trade and Labor Affairs, receives and reviews submissions made under the labor chapters of our trade agreements.

Current Status: Review of Submissions

ILAB has accepted labor submissions for review concerning several countries. Our decision to review a public submission does not indicate any determination as to the validity or accuracy of the allegations contained in the submission. This will be addressed in the report that follows our detailed review and analysis.


The Submission Process

A labor submission must meet certain criteria. The allegations must raise issues relevant to the labor provisions in the NAALC or FTA and illustrate a country's failure to comply with its obligations. OTLA's procedural guidelines provide a detailed explanation of what is required. If the submission meets these criteria, OTLA will accept the submission for review. OTLA then conducts the review and issues a public report on its findings generally within six months of accepting the submission. Depending on the outcome of the review, OTLA may recommend further actions, including that the U.S. request Consultations with the other country. The U.S. requested the first labor-related consultations ever under an FTA Labor Chapter on July 30, 2010 with Guatemala.

If Consultations fail to resolve the issue(s), FTA dispute settlement procedures may be invoked under certain circumstances. The procedures and remedies vary depending on the particular FTA, and the NAALC limits which labor issues can be taken to dispute settlement.