NAFTA Renegotiation – Public Comment Deadline Extended

June 13, 2017Alerts International Trade Alert

The process of renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Mexico and Canada officially began on May 18 when the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) notified Congress, triggering a 90-day period during which the administration will consult with Congress before NAFTA negotiations can begin. The USTR requested public comments on its negotiation of NAFTA, which were initially due by June 12. The USTR has extended its deadline to June 14 at 11:59 p.m. ET.

After originally calling for a complete withdrawal from NAFTA, the administration displayed a more lenient position in its announcement and notice to Congress. The administration continued to criticize NAFTA’s provisions on labor and environmental protection, digital trade, intellectual property protection, and state-owned enterprises, however, it called for modifying certain aspects of the agreement, rather than comprehensive revisions. 

Canada and Mexico have shown a willingness to renegotiate portions of NAFTA, provided that the majority of the Agreement stays intact.  The two countries are likely to push back on certain topics, including the administration’s plan to increase local content for country-of-origin calculations, including that of automobiles, reduction in Canada’s protective measures of its dairy industry, and easing of Mexico’s restrictive policy on foreign investment in its energy sector. 

The USTR requested public comment on its negotiation of NAFTA on a broad number of topics listed at the end of this article.  Parties may also testify at an open hearing scheduled for 9 a.m. on June 27, 2017 held in the Main Hearing Room of the U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington, D.C. Written comments and requests to testify must be submitted to USTR.  Although the deadline for submission was originally June 12, the deadline has been extended to June 14 at 11:59 pm ET. 

Comments should be submitted at www.regulations.gov website. To submit comments, enter docket number USTR-2017-0006 on the home page search field and then select the listing associated with this docket.

NAFTA is of great importance to many large sectors in the U.S. economy and revisions contemplated by the administration will have broad implications for many U.S. companies doing business in Canada and Mexico. As such, we strongly encourage parties to take advantage of the opportunity to provide public comments and to shape the administration’s position on topics of priority and concern. 

Topics Open to Public Comment:

  • General and product-specific negotiating objectives for Canada and Mexico in the context of a NAFTA modernization.
  • Economic costs and benefits to US producers and consumers of removal of any remaining tariffs and removal or reduction of non-tariff barriers on articles traded with Canada and Mexico.
  • Treatment of specific goods (described by HTSUS numbers), including comments on:
    • Product-specific import or export interests or barriers;
    • Experience with particular measures that should be addressed in negotiations; and
    • Addressing any remaining tariffs on articles traded with Canada, including ways to address export priorities and import sensitivities related to Canada and Mexico in the context of the NAFTA.
  • Customs and trade facilitation issues that should be addressed in the negotiations.
  • Appropriate modifications to rules of origin or origin procedures for NAFTA qualifying goods.
  • Any unwarranted sanitary and phytosanitary measures and technical barriers to trade imposed by Canada and Mexico that should be addressed in the negotiations.
  • Relevant barriers to trade in services between the United States, Canada, and Mexico that should be addressed in the negotiations.
  • Relevant digital trade issues that should be addressed in the negotiations.
  • Relevant trade-related intellectual property rights issues that should be addressed in the negotiations.
  • Relevant investment issues that should be addressed in the negotiations.
  • Relevant competition-related matters that should be addressed in the negotiations.
  • Relevant government procurement issues that should be addressed in the negotiations.
  • Relevant environmental issues that should be addressed in the negotiations.
  • Relevant labor issues that should be addressed in the negotiations.
  • Issues of particular relevance to small and medium-sized businesses that should be addressed in the negotiations.
  • Relevant trade remedy issues that should be addressed in the negotiations
  • Relevant state-owned enterprise issues that should be addressed in the negotiations.