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Global Affairs Canada seeks comments on NAFTA renegotiations

Author(s): Margaret Kim, Jake Schmidt, Peter Glossop, Riyaz Dattu

June 6, 2017

Our last international trade brief dealt with NAFTA renegotiations being set in motion after Trump’s final notice to Congress, the imminent implementation of CETA, and a Trade Case Alert relating to Canadian anti-dumping duties being imposed for certain fabricated industrial steel components that can be anticipated to affect various infrastructure projects. In this brief, we discuss Global Affairs Canada seeking comments on NAFTA renegotiations, the increased enforcement of U.S. trade laws, a Trade Case Alert pertaining to anti-dumping import duties for gypsum panels shipped to Western Canada, and a Trade Case Alert dealing with a global safeguard investigation into solar panels imported into the U.S. 

On June 3, 2017, Global Affairs Canada published in the Canada Gazette a notice (Notice) inviting submissions from the public on the renegotiation and modernization of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The Notice follows the Trump administration’s notice to Congress of its intention to renegotiate NAFTA.

The Notice states that the Canadian government has identified several NAFTA topics as requiring clarification and technical improvements such as labour, environment and culture. Other areas that will form part of the renegotiations will include customs procedures, rules of origin for manufactured goods (including automotive products), supply management, government procurement, and binational dispute resolution of trade remedies cases.

In addition to improving or amending existing provisions within NAFTA, the Canadian government is also inviting comments on the following:

  • Transparency and anti-corruption;
  • E-commerce;
  • Trade facilitation;
  • Development of small and medium-sized enterprises;
  • State-owned enterprises;
  • Co-operation and capacity building; and
  • Regulatory coherence.

Many of these topics were addressed in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, from which the U.S. withdrew [PDF] on January 30, 2017.

The most controversial areas with potential for significant Canadian impact include agricultural supply management, rules of origin for goods and the Chapter 19 process for resolving disputes over anti-dumping and countervailing duties. Canadian businesses that rely on certain provisions of NAFTA for the successful operation of their business should consider making submissions. Canada’s negotiating position depends on the views of Canadian businesses. Those businesses which do not make their views known to the government now may learn that certain trade preferences they have enjoyed under NAFTA were eroded or eliminated because the Canadian government concluded that Canadian industry did not support them going forward into the renegotiated NAFTA.

Canadian businesses are strongly encouraged to submit their views before the July 18, 2017 deadline.

A link to the complete announcement is available here