On March 19, 2020, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) published in the Federal Register a notice [Docket No. USTR-2020-0012] requesting applications from U.S. citizens and nationals of other countries for the establishment of a roster of individuals who would be available to serve as panelists for general state-to-state dispute settlement panels and for specialized labor panels, required by the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). To ensure consideration, USTR must receive applications by April 20, 2020.
USMCA requires the Parties to establish a general roster of up to 30 individuals who are willing to serve as panelists, with each Party designating up to 10 individuals. The Parties will try to achieve consensus on the roster. Individuals on the roster are appointed for a minimum term of three years and will remain on the list until the Parties form a new roster. See USMCA Article 31.8.1. Panelists normally are selected from the roster. For disputes under Chapter 23 (Labor) and Chapter 24 (Environment), each disputing Party has to select panelists with relevant expertise, and for disputes in specialized areas of law aside from labor and environment, the disputing Parties should select panelists to ensure the necessary expertise is available on the panel.
Annex 31–A establishes a facility specific rapid response labor mechanism (the Mechanism), as between the United States and Mexico, which can be used whenever either Party believes that workers at a Covered Facility (as defined in Article 31–A.15) are being denied the right of free association and collective bargaining under the laws necessary to fulfill the obligations of the other Party under the USMCA (a Denial of Rights). A Party may ask a labor panel under the Mechanism to request that the respondent Party allow it an opportunity to verify the Covered Facility’s compliance with the law in question and to determine whether there has been a Denial of Rights.