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February 20, 2018 | by    

On NAFTA, What Are Negotiators Fighting Over And How Can MSCI Members Weigh In?

Canadian, Mexican, and U.S. negotiators will meet from February 26 to March 6 in Mexico City for the seventh round of discussions about how to modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

As Connecting the Dots has reported, negotiators ended the sixth round having made some progress—they closed negotiations on anti-corruption—while also acknowledging that the countries continue to face tough challenges in order to strike a new deal. Steve Verheul, Canada’s chief negotiator, acknowledged last week that negotiators are close to concluding chapters dealing with telecommunications, customs, and technical barriers to trade, but also voiced frustration over the United States’ limited flexibility in negotiations.

Specifically, Canadian negotiators oppose U.S. efforts to:

  • Eliminate the NAFTA bi-national dispute settlement process for challenging anti-dumping (AD) and countervailing (CVD) measures;
  • Include a sunset clause that would limit the NAFTA agreement to a five-year period, after which the pact would need to be renegotiated;
  • Change automobile manufacturing rules of origin by marking up the requirements to avoid foreign import taxes; and
  • Limit Canada and Mexico to one dollar of contracts for every dollar in contracts granted by Canada and Mexico to American companies.

Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray said on local television that he is cautiously optimistic about efforts to modernize NAFTA, but also said Mexico should be prepared for any outcome, including the possibility that negotiations stall.

The Canadian government has established a webpage for stakeholders to submit their views on NAFTA modernization. Metals Service Center Institute (MSCI) members are encouraged to use the website to offer their opinions. Stakeholders may also submit comments by email or by mail to: NAFTA Consultations, Global Affairs Canada, Trade Negotiations – North America (TNP), Lester B. Pearson Building, 125 Sussex Drive, Ottawa, ON K1A 0G2.

MSCI members in the United States who are interested in weighing in on the NAFTA deliberations should contact their representatives in the U.S. House and Senate to let them know how altering or eliminating NAFTA would affect their businesses, employees, and customers. Click here for contact information for every member of the House and here for senators. Click here to re-read MSCI’s own NAFTA negotiating priorities. In other news: U.S. senators went to the White House last week to argue against leaving NAFTA. Click here to read more about that meeting.