Guatemala says arbitration panel with US on hold
GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) – The United States has agreed to freeze an arbitration panel with Guatemala in order to informally settle accusations that the Central American nation has failed to protect workers’ rights, Guatemala’s economy minister said yesterday.
“Initiating an arbitration panel could have negative effects on commerce between the two nations, which is why we have entered into this agreement before the panel is formed,” said economy minister Sergio de la Torre.
Two-way trade between the United States and Guatemala totalled $10.8 billion last year.
US officials requested the arbitration panel last year after labour unions from both countries filed suit under the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agree-ment, or DR-CAFTA, alleging Guatemala’s government failed to effectively combat child labor, guarantee the right to assemble, and ensure overtime pay.
But the United States will put the arbitration panel on hold as long as Guatemala proves it is taking steps toward improving working conditions, said De la Torre.