WASHINGTON, Feb. 25 (UPI) — President Barack Obama signed a bipartisan trade bill that includes a measure banning the United States from importing products procured or produced by slaves.
The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 removes the “consumptive demand” exception that allowed the United States to import goods if there was not sufficient domestic supply to meet U.S. demand, regardless of how the items were produced abroad.
The Obama administration is also bringing the first labor case under a free-trade agreement against Guatemala. The findings in the case are expected to be issued by a panel later this year.
“The Obama administration is the first to make use of the dispute settlement mechanism to stand up for workers’ rights,” a Wednesday White House statement reads.
“This case, filed against Guatemala challenging its enforcement of its labor laws relating to the right of association, the right to organize and bargain collectively, and acceptable work conditions … sends the strong signal that the United States will use the full range of tools at our disposal, including formal dispute settlement, to ensure that workers’ rights are protected.”
The bill also increases U.S. Customs and Border Protection inspections, particularly on steel imports, and increases funding for the agency.