The US is seeking further progress by Guatemala on its labour obligations under the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA).

While recognising that important steps have been taken under an Enforcement Plan signed by the country's government last year, US Trade Representative Michael Froman said the case will remain suspended for another four months.

The US and Guatemala signed the 18-point plan in April 2013, including actions designed to strengthen labour law enforcement.

Non-implementation of the Enforcement Plan risks the reactivation by the US of an arbitration panel established in 2011 under the DR-CAFTA.

The latest decision "recognises the progress made in Guatemala to adopt reforms to improve labour law enforcement, but also recognises that significant work remains," Ambassador Froman said. 

"We will continue to work closely with the Guatemalan Government in these next four months to review the steps taken and assess whether the reforms are leading to concrete improvements in Guatemalan workers' rights."

Among the outstanding steps that remain to be taken, Guatemala still needs to pass legislation providing for an expedited process to sanction employers that violate labour laws and to implement a mechanism to ensure payments to workers in cases where enterprises have closed.

In addition, in the next four months Guatemala needs to demonstrate that the legal reforms it has undertaken and still needs to undertake are being effectively implemented and leading to positive changes on the ground. 

The US Government can reactivate the arbitral panel at any point during the next four months.