U.S. Labor Complaint Against Guatemala Is First With a Trade-Pact Partner

The U.S. will file a complaint against Guatemala over its lack of labor protections using provisions in a regional free-trade agreement, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said.

It’s the first time the U.S. is invoking a trade accord to challenge another country’s labor practices, and follows a rise in violence against union organizers in the Central American nation, Kirk said today in a speech in Pennsylvania.

“With this case, we are sending a strong message that our trading partners must protect their own workers, that the Obama administration will not tolerate labor violations that place U.S. workers at a disadvantage,” Kirk said.

Guatemala was part of the U.S.-Central American Free Trade Agreement approved by Congress in 2005. U.S. trade with Guatemala was $7 billion last year, up from $6 billion in 2005, before the agreement was implemented, according to Commerce Department data.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Drajem in Washington at mdrajem@bloomberg.net

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