There’s still a week left for companies to provide input to the U.S. government on the potential renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
The U.S. Trade Representative’s office seeks feedback on a wide variety of negotiating objectives, some of them industry-specific, ahead of a June 27 hearing at the International Trade Commission.
The Trump administration on May 18 gave the requisite 90-day notice of its intent to negotiate NAFTA, a 22-year-old trade deal that the new president has slammed as “the worst deal ever made” for its supposedly negative effects on U.S. manufacturing.
While some studies have pointed to NAFTA’s relatively muted effects on the overall U.S. economy, losses were felt acutely in certain sectors like textiles and auto manufacturing. Proponents, however, say the integrated supply chains that have developed allow specialization that makes the broader North American region competitive globally. Mr. Trump has threatened to pull out entirely if he can’t get a better deal for U.S. workers.
Representatives from both Mexico and Canada have expressed openness to updating the deal, but not to changing its core commitment to tariff-free trade in goods. Sectors like digital trade weren’t envisaged at the time of the deal and some areas, like services, were simply left out.
Ironically for a Trump administration that pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation deal including Canada and Mexico, many of the objectives to be addressed in the renegotiation had already been settled in the Pacific pact.
How the deal should approach state-owned enterprises, labor and environmental standards, intellectual property and rules of origin on certain products like car parts had been hashed out in seven years of talks with various parties. Some experts say that the administration will look to the TPP template in these talks despite having killed that deal.
Other issues to be addressed include how removing remaining tariffs would affect U.S. producers, handling non-tariff barriers, customs and trade facilitation, any “unwarranted” sanitary and phytosanitary measures imposed by Mexico and Canada, issues related to government procurement and much more.
See the full USTR notice embedded below, including procedures for submission and how to keep competitive information confidential in the submission forms.