The Resolution by the Department of Economy was published in the Official Gazette of the Federation on February 17 of this year; this Resolution established the merchandise whose importation is regulated by the Department of Labor and Social Welfare, in regard to compliance with ILO Convention 29 on the prohibition of forced labor: the enactment executive order of this resolution was published in the Official Gazette of the Federation on August 13 of 1935.
For the purposes of Article 2 of ILO Convention 29, the expression forced or compulsory labor designates any work or service demanded from an individual under threat of any penalty and for which said individual does not offer himself voluntarily.
Also, in its legal basis, this Resolution makes reference to the obligations assumed by Mexico, the United States and Canada, in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which entered onto force on June 29, 2020. Among the commitments of this Agreement, we find the objective of promoting the protection of and compliance with labor rights and the improvement of working conditions.
In accordance with these objectives, in Paragraph 3 of Article 23.2 of the NAFTA, the contracting parties agreed on the commercial objective of only importing products that comply with the Chapter on Labor of said Agreement and, in Article 23.6, the parties accepted the obligation of preventing the importation into their territories of merchandise produced, in whole or in part, with the use of compulsory or forced labor, including child forced labor.
The Department of Labor and Social Welfare will have the responsibility of determining compliance with NAFTA Article 23.6.
In its Sole Transitory Article, it was established that the Agreement would enter into force 90 calendar days after its publication and, based on this, the Department of Labor published on May 18 of this year the entry into force of the Agreement of the Department of Commerce and its Sole Annex, which defines the merchandise whose importation is subject to the regulation and is the responsibility of the Department of Labor and Social Welfare
The Department of Labor and Social Welfare has published the Guidelines for the Application of the Mechanism to Prevent the Importation of Merchandise produced with Forced or Compulsory Labor.
These Guidelines specify the definition of the tariff classifications of the classifications subject to review and, if applicable, the prohibition of their importation, as well as the procedures for individuals to request their review, the conditions under which the Department of Labor itself will conduct these reviews, the criteria for determining the existence of forced or child labor in the production of imported merchandise, as well as the due diligence and responsible business conduct international tools to combat forced labor.
It is highly important to point out that the ILO Conventions are mandatory and binding for all of those countries that have ratified them and, in regard to Convention 29 on forced labor, it was ratified by Mexico on May 12, 1934 and by Canada on June 13, 2011; the United States has not ratified it, but it committed to its compliance in terms of Article 23.6 of the NAFTA
This is a topic of great interest, as not only Mexico has the obligation of complying with these international treaties, but in the case of NAFTA, it applies to the three countries and this could be an instrument of defense for our compatriots that work in the United States and in Canada, often in very precarious conditions given their immigration status or their position of need, particularly in agricultural work.
The Guidelines prepared by the Department of Labor and Social Welfare can be consulted on the web page of said Department or at the following link