WASHINGTON — Senior officials from the U.S. Department of Labor and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and their Government of Panama counterparts today concluded the first Labor Affairs Council meeting under the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement in Panama City, Panama. During the Jan. 27-28 meetings, officials reaffirmed their commitments under the Labor Chapter of the TPA and discussed:
- possible areas for future cooperation;
- activities to strengthen institutional capacity and labor law enforcement and compliance;
- child labor and youth employment; and
- areas of common interest, such as the use of temporary contracts and processes for union registration.
The council is responsible for overseeing the implementation and review of progress under the Labor Chapter of the TPA. Eric Biel, acting associate deputy undersecretary for international labor affairs at the Labor Department, and Carlos Romero, deputy assistant U.S. Trade Representative, led the U.S. delegation at the meetings, which included a public session with workers, employers, civil society organizations and the general public, attracting a crowd of more than 50 participants. Along with their counterparts from the Ministry of Labor and the Ministry of Commerce and Industry of Panama, U.S. officials issued a joint statement at the conclusion of the meetings.
"A sustained, transparent, inclusive dialogue is crucial to full implementation of the Labor Chapter," said Biel. "To that end, we are pleased that the Government of Panama has demonstrated a clear commitment to continue to work together with us to ensure that respect for labor rights is a meaningful part of this important bilateral agreement."
The joint statement is available at the department's Bureau of International Labor Affairs' in Panama page.
The U.S. and Panamanian delegations to the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement Labor Affairs Council in Panama City, Panama, including (from R) Carlos Romero, deputy assistant U.S. Trade Representative; Eric Biel, acting associate deputy undersecretary for international labor affairs at the Labor Department; and U.S. Ambassador to Panama Jonathan Farrar, Jan. 28, 2014.