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March 12, 2018 | by    

Seventh Round Of NAFTA Negotiations Yields Little Progress

Last Tuesday, Canadian, Mexican, and U.S. negotiators wrapped up the seventh round of discussions to modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). President Donald Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs came in the middle of the discussions, unsettling negotiators until it became clear that the United States’ North American trading partners would be exempt from the penalties.

During the seventh round, negotiators were able to finish work on three chapters of the agreement – good regulatory practices, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, and publication and administration – and have now completed work on six of the 30 chapters.

In a statement at the end of the seventh round, however, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer dismissed the progress, arguing “time is running very short” to renegotiate the deal. The ambassador noted that Mexico will hold a presidential election in July and the United States will hold congressional elections in November. Lighthizer suggested the United States would pursue bilateral agreements if NAFTA could not be renegotiated.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland was more optimistic. She argued, “We are making progress – but we have significant work ahead.” The negotiators are likely to meet again in April although no date has been formally set.

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 (NAFTA-Consultations-ALENA@international.gc.ca) 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 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.

MSCI members in Texas also are encouraged to attend the U.S. Small Business Administration’s discussion on NAFTA this Thursday, March 20 in Houston. The SBA wants to hear directly from small businesses on their priorities, opportunities and challenges in a renegotiated NAFTA and to gather information that can be used in an upcoming report to Congress on the views of small business on the potential economic effects of a renegotiated NAFTA. The discussion will be held from 1:30 p.m. CT to 4:30 p.m. CT. Click here for more information and to register.