Worker rights could be part of Mexico-UK free trade deal that aims to boost digital trade

Mon 23 May 2022
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News

Mexico has left the door open for workers’ rights provisions in the advanced trade deal on which it has begun negotiating with the UK, similar to those in its pact with the US and Canada.

As reported in Politico, Britain would have to push to get a USMCA-style Rapid Response Labor Mechanism, which allows signatories to call for investigations of violations of labour rights, Mexico’s Secretary of Economy Tatiana Clouthier has said.

“If we have it, fine. If we don’t have it, fine,” Clouthier said, adding “I don’t need anybody to tell me how to behave. I know how to behave well with workers.”

As previously covered in the IOE&IT’s Daily Update, trade talks with Mexico had provoked some concern about its record in environmental and workers’ rights.

The UK signed a roll-over of the Mexico-EU trade deal in 2020, which came into force on 1 June 2021, and is seeking an advanced deal in talks begun on Friday 20 May 2022. 

A new trade deal between Mexico and the UK will also look to help workers move between the two countries more easily and enhance opportunities for UK firms to bid for contracts in Mexico.

Further digitally

It is hoped a new deal can go further on the digitalisation of trade documents and data flows, reports Politico.

The UK is seeking an enhanced ‘Mexico 2.0’ free trade deal for the digital age with a focus on hi-tech jobs and industries of the future.

The Department for International Trade said a deal will also aim to lock in tariff reductions of £57 million per year secured under existing agreements, ensuring tariff-free trade on 97% of UK goods.

UK negotiators are targeting areas such as services and technology, boosting a trade relationship already worth over £4 billion.

The agreement could increase trade flows across the financial, creative, digital and technology services sectors thanks to advanced services provisions, the government has said.

Growth market

Mexico is a major market for UK exporters with demand for imports set to grow by 35% by 2035. It is also strategically situated, serving as a gateway to the Americas as well as to the dynamic trans-Pacific region.

Trade minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan said negotiations with Mexico came on the back of those with India and Canada, and at a time that the UK is close to joining the CPTPP free trade area.

“This enhanced deal would transform our relationship with Mexico, making the most of the immense opportunities its dynamic business landscape and young, growing population offer,” she said.

“From autonomous vehicle manufacturers in the West Midlands, to Wales’ green tech businesses and Scotland’s thriving food and drink sector, companies of all shapes and sizes across the UK stand to benefit.”