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US Trade Chief Asks Mexico, Canada for Help Fighting Forced Labor as USMCA Marks Year 1

© AP Photo / Jacquelyn MartinIn this Aug. 16, 2017 file photo, the national flags of Canada, the U.S. and Mexico are lit by stage lights before a news conference, at the start of the North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiations in Washington
In this Aug. 16, 2017 file photo, the national flags of Canada, the U.S. and Mexico are lit by stage lights before a news conference, at the start of the North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiations in Washington - Sputnik International, 1920, 30.06.2021
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WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - As the historic trilateral trade pact between the three nations approaches its first anniversary, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai on Wednesday called for greater cooperation from Mexico and Canada in ending the practice of forced labor.
The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) entered into force on July 1, 2020, replacing the 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The new pact essentially modernizes NAFTA, including rules regarding labor standards.
"A good next step in this increased cooperation can be on the issue of forced labor," the US trade chief said on the eve of commemorating the pact’s first year. "The USMCA includes a strong obligation to prohibit the importation of goods produced with forced labor. Working together to address this critical economic and moral issue would send a powerful message to the world."
Hailing the USMA for setting the "strongest labor and environmental standards in any agreement ever," Tai noted, however, that there was more for the pact to achieve.
Tai noted that the USMCA had a new labor-specific enforcement mechanism to enable greater protection of worker rights in the region.
The agreement, enacted in the US Congress with bilateral support from Republicans led by the former US president, Donald Trump, and Democrats aligned with the current Biden administration, also contains intellectual property provisions meant to make things like medicine more affordable.
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