June 26, 2017

USTR Begins Public Hearings On NAFTA Renegotiation This Week; Canadian Government To Hear From Public In July

This Tuesday, June 27 at 9 a.m. ET in Washington, DC, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) will begin three days of hearings on North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) modernization. The schedule for Tuesday’s session is available here.

As a reminder, MSCI has submitted written comments to the USTR regarding NAFTA modernization.

The government of Canada also is planning to hear from stakeholders about NAFTA modernization. Written submissions by interested parties are due to Global Affairs Canada by July 18, 2017. Click here to learn more.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer discussed NAFTA modernization last week in testimony before the U.S. Senate Finance Committee and the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee. (Click here to watch the House hearing and here to watch the Senate proceedings.) When asked about a timeline for renegotiation, Ambassador Lighthizer said, “The only deadline we have is that we’re going to get a good agreement, one that is transformative and a very high-standard agreement.”

In the hearings, Ambassador Lighthizer also:

  • Said U.S. negotiators will take a "do-no-harm" approach to renegotiating NAFTA in order to avoid disrupting American certain sectors.
  • Noted that while currency manipulation is “generally not a problem with respect to Canada and Mexico,” that fact won’t discourage the administration from seeking a currency provision in NAFTA. (Click here for information more on this issue.)
  • Promised to strengthen online intellectual property and digital trade protections in NAFTA.
  • Said that he expected NAFTA talks between the United States, Canada, and Mexico to begin on August 16, 2017.

Ambassador Lighthizer also discussed President Donald Trump’s trade agenda in general, noting that the Trump administration will take a tougher line on enforcing U.S. trade deals and will focus on bilateral trade deals with other nations after renegotiating NAFTA. Ambassador Lighthizer said, “The president has instructed me to negotiate trade deals that put American workers, farmers and ranchers, families, and businesses first, and to complement those negotiations with a vigorous enforcement agenda.” He also said, “USTR also is working to advance each point of President Trump's trade policy agenda, which includes promoting U.S. sovereignty, enforcing U.S. trade laws, leveraging American economic strength, protecting U.S. intellectual property rights, and reducing America's persistent trade deficit.”