June 07, 2017

Public Comment Period for NAFTA Renegotiation Provides Opportunity for Food & Agriculture Industry

On May 23, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) issued a Federal Register notice soliciting public comment on the Trump administration’s plans to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico. The public comment period ends June 12, as does the date for requesting an opportunity to testify at a June 27 public hearing on NAFTA. These deadlines are fast approaching.

Although in need of modernization, NAFTA has been critical for U.S. importers and exporters alike. For example, U.S. food and agriculture companies have benefited significantly from the elimination of tariffs and quota restrictions with Canada and Mexico. Given that NAFTA is more than 25 years old, this renegotiation offers U.S. industry a rare opportunity to provide input that may not come again for another 25 years. We urge U.S. companies to contact their trade associations to ensure their voices are heard, or to reach out to the USTR directly through the public comment process. Please contact the authors for any assistance in drafting or submitting comments to the USTR prior to the June 12 deadline.

Specifically, the USTR is requesting comment from the public on the following:

  1. General and product-specific negotiating objectives for Canada and Mexico in the context of a NAFTA modernization.
  2. Economic costs and benefits to U.S. producers and consumers of removal of any remaining tariffs and removal or reduction of non-tariff barriers on articles traded with Canada and Mexico.
  3. Treatment of specific goods, including comments on:
    1. Product-specific import or export interests or barriers.
    2. Experience with particular measures that should be addressed in negotiations.
    3. Addressing any remaining tariffs on articles traded with Canada, including ways to address export priorities and import sensitivities related to Canada and Mexico in the context of NAFTA.
  4. Customs and trade facilitation issues that should be addressed in the negotiations.
  5. Appropriate modifications to rules of origin or origin procedures for NAFTA qualifying goods.
  6. Any unwarranted sanitary and phytosanitary measures and technical barriers to trade imposed by Canada and Mexico that should be addressed in the negotiations.
  7. Relevant barriers to trade in services between the United States and Canada and Mexico that should be addressed in the negotiations.
  8. Relevant digital trade issues that should be addressed in the negotiations.
  9. Relevant trade-related intellectual property rights issues that should be addressed in the negotiations.
  10. Relevant investment issues that should be addressed in the negotiations.
  11. Relevant competition-related matters that should be addressed in the negotiations.
  12. Relevant government procurement issues that should be addressed in the negotiations.
  13. Relevant environmental issues that should be addressed in the negotiations.
  14. Relevant labor issues that should be addressed in the negotiations.
  15. Issues of particular relevance to small and medium-sized businesses that should be addressed in the negotiations.
  16. Relevant trade remedy issues that should be addressed in the negotiations.
  17. Relevant state-owned enterprise issues that should be addressed in the negotiations.
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