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Mexico to demand new labour standards for foreign firms: Marcelo Ebrard

Marcelo Ebrard, picked by Mexico’s president-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador as foreign minister, speaks during a news conference after a meeting with Canada’s Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland. (REUTERS photo)

Mexico’s next Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said on Wednesday that foreign companies in the country will have to meet the same human, environmental and labor rights standards as in their own countries under the incoming administration.

Speaking after a meeting between President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, Ebrard said the next government would seek to promote investment but that regulations would move into line with elsewhere.

“All companies in Mexico, from Canada, Europe or other countries, will have to meet the same environmental, labor and other rules as in their home countries,” Ebrard said.

“Because sometimes they do one thing here, and there they do another.” He did not provide further details.

Labour rights in Mexico have been an important issue in the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Most complaints centre on low wages, but workers have historically struggled to organize unions that are genuinely independent.

A constitutional reform under the current government changed that, but Lopez Obrador’s team will be tasked with implementing the changes. Canadian and Mexican officials on Wednesday insisted that NAFTA remain a trilateral pact.

Ebrard also told reporters that Canadian companies and skills could be of interest to the government to help in its plans to build a railway and other infrastructure projects in the economically poorer south of the country.

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