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High volume of public comments on NAFTA renegotiations filed with USTR

Author(s): Jaime Auron, Peter Glossop, Riyaz Dattu

June 20, 2017

Our last international trade brief dealt with 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. In this brief, we discuss why Canada should forge ahead with the TPP without the U.S., U.S. retailers’ priorities for NAFTA renegotiations, the public comments on NAFTA renegotiations, NAFTA becoming a battleground for trade-related IP obligations, and a Trade Case Alert relating to a Canadian anti-dumping and countervailing investigation being initiated for certain carbon and alloy steel line pipe from Korea. 

On May 18, 2017, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) notified Congress that President Trump’s administration intended to undertake a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico. The USTR published in the Federal Register on May 23, 2017 an invitation for public input to inform the development of U.S. negotiating objectives and positions.

The deadline for making public submissions to the USTR was June 12, 2017. In excess of 11,000 individuals and organizations provided their views. Due to the high level of interest, the USTR extended the deadline to June 14, 2017. By June 14, a total of 12,451 submissions were received. The filed submissions can be accessed here.

A common theme in the submissions from a very broad spectrum of interested parties that support NAFTA is  that U.S. exports to Canada and Mexico have benefited immensely under NAFTA, and future negotiations should be undertaken without jeopardizing existing market access gains. This perspective was commonly expressed through support for a key negotiating principle of ‘do no harm.’

The USTR has scheduled public hearings on the negotiating objectives to take place on June 27, 2017.

The deadline for making submissions to the Canadian government is July 18, 2017.  Canadian businesses should access the comments filed with the USTR and are strongly urged to provide their informed views to the Canadian negotiators to help formulate Canada’s negotiating position.