The Office of the US Trade Representative has warned it may reactivate an arbitration panel if Guatemala fails to improve enforcement of worker rights by the end of next month.

The US requested a dispute settlement panel against Guatemala under the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA) in 2011 in order to enforce the country's labour laws. It was the first such action taken by the US under the labour provisions of a free trade agreement.

The plan was signed in April last year, and comprised a number of steps that Guatemala committed to implement within six months.

But while the country has adopted a number of reforms, the USTR said last week that implementation of those reforms is key to improving worker rights in Guatemala.

Officials from both sides met in Washington last week to discuss the plan's implementation.

"We will continue to work with our partners to strengthen enforcement of labour rights in Guatemala," said US Trade Representative Michael Froman, adding that the meeting "was an important opportunity to assess what progress has been made and where further efforts are necessary."

Froman said the US believes "further action is urgently needed" to implement the plan and that if these concerns are not addressed by 25 April, the US will restart dispute settlement proceedings.