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Notice

Bureau of International Labor Affairs; Office of Trade and Labor Affairs; Request for Comments on Labor Capacity-Building Efforts Under the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement

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AGENCIES:

Office of the Secretary, Labor, and Office of the United States Trade Representative.

ACTION:

Request for comments from the public.

SUMMARY:

This notice is a request for comments from the public to assist the Secretary of Labor and the United States Trade Representative in preparing a report on labor capacity-building efforts under Chapter 16 (“the Labor Chapter”) and Annex 16.5 of the Dominican Republic—Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (“the CAFTA-DR”), as well as efforts made by the CAFTA-DR countries to implement the recommendations contained in the report entitled “The Labor Dimension in Central America and the Dominican Republic—Building on Progress: Strengthening Compliance and Enhancing Capacity” (“the White Paper”). This report is required under the Dominican Republic—Central America—United States Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act /(“the CAFTA-DR Implementation Act”). The reporting function and the responsibility for soliciting public comments required under this Act were assigned to the Secretary of Labor, in consultation with the United States Trade Representative.

DATES:

Written comments are due no later than 5 p.m. September 22, 2008.

ADDRESSES:

Persons submitting comments are strongly advised to make such submissions by electronic mail to the following address: FRFTACAFTA@dol.gov. Submissions by facsimile may be sent to: Gregory K. Schoepfle, Director, Office of Trade and Labor Affairs, U.S. Department of Labor at (202) 693-4851 (this is not a toll-free number).

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Gregory K. Schoepfle, Director, Office of Trade and Labor Affairs, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW., Room S-5303, Washington, DC 20210. Telephone (202) 693-4900 (this is not a toll-free number).

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

1. Background

During the legislative approval process for the CAFTA-DR, the Administration and the Congress reached an understanding on the need to support labor capacity-building efforts linked to recommendations identified in the White Paper of the Working Group of the Vice Ministers Responsible for Trade and Labor in the countries of Central America and the Dominican Republic. A total of $130 million was appropriated in support of labor and environment capacity-building in FY 2005 through FY 2008, with an additional $40 million anticipated for FY 2009.

Areas of focus were identified through a cooperative process and dialogue between the United States and its CAFTA-DR partners (Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua) as envisaged by the Labor Chapter and Annex 16.5 of the CAFTA-DR. The multi-year assistance effort focuses on building the capacity of the ministries of labor to more effectively enforce labor laws, training labor inspectors, developing and distributing public awareness materials, assessing the information technology needs of the ministries of labor, and providing technical assistance to the labor justice system in Central America and the Dominican Republic.

For more information on these initiatives, see the full text of the CAFTA-DR and the White Paper as well as other relevant fact sheets and reports posted on the respective Web sites of the Office of the United States Trade Representative, http://www.ustr.gov/​Trade_​Agreements/​Regional/​CAFTA/​Section_​Index.html, and the ILO Subregional Office for Central America, Haiti, Panama and the Dominican Republic, http://web.oit.or.cr/​ (follow the link to: Sector IV, Dialogo Social, and then link to: Verification of the White Paper, Central America and the Dominican Republic).

Under section 403(a) of the CAFTA-DR Implementation Act, 19 U.S.C. 4111(a), the President must report biennially to the Congress on the progress made by the CAFTA-DR countries in implementing the labor obligations and the labor capacity-building provisions found in the Labor Chapter and Annex 16.5 and implementing the recommendations contained in the White Paper. Section 403(a)(4) requires the President to establish a mechanism to solicit public comments on the matters described in section 403(a)(3)(D) of the CAFTA-DR Implementation Act, 19 U.S.C. 4111(a)(4).

By Proclamation, the President delegated the reporting function and the responsibility for soliciting public comments under section 403(a) of the CAFTA-DR Implementation Act, 19 U.S.C. 4111(a), to the Secretary of Labor, in consultation with the United States Trade Representative. Proclamation No. 8272, 73 FR 38,297 (June 30, 2008). This notice serves to request public comments as required by this section.

2. Information Sought

The Department of Labor is seeking comments on the following topics as required under Section 404(a)(3)(D) of the CAFTA-DR Implementation Act:

1. Capacity-building efforts by the United States government envisaged by Article 16.5 of the CAFTA-DR Labor Chapter and Annex 16.5;

2. Efforts by the United States government to facilitate full implementation of the White Paper recommendations; and

3. Efforts made by the CAFTA-DR countries to comply with Article 16.5 of the Labor Chapter and Annex 16.5 and to fully implement the White Paper recommendations, including progress made by the CAFTA-DR countries in affording to workers internationally-recognized worker rights through improved capacity.

3. Requirements for Comments

This notice requests comments in response to a general solicitation to the public. Written comments may be submitted by 5 p.m. September 22, 2008. To ensure prompt and full consideration of comments, it is strongly recommended that comments be submitted by electronic mail to the following e-mail address: FRFTACAFTA@dol.gov. Persons making comments by e-mail should use the following subject line: Comments on CAFTA-DR Labor Capacity Building Efforts. Documents should be submitted Start Printed Page 50058in MSWord format. Supporting documentation submitted as spreadsheets is acceptable in Excel format. Persons who make comments by e-mail should not provide separate cover letters; information that might appear in a cover letter should be included in the comments themselves. Similarly, to the extent possible, any attachments to the comments should be included in the same file as the comments themselves, not as separate files. In the event that e-mail comments are not possible, comments should be sent by facsimile to (202) 693-4851 (this is not a toll-free number). Written comments will be placed in a file open to public inspection at the Department of Labor, Room S-5303, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20210. An appointment to review the file must be scheduled at least 48 hours in advance and may be made by calling (202) 693-4900 (this is not a toll-free number).

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Signed at Washington, DC on this 19th day of August 2008.

Lawrence W. Casey,

Associate Deputy Under Secretary for International Affairs, Bureau of International Labor Affairs.

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[FR Doc. E8-19608 Filed 8-22-08; 8:45 am]

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