Deadline looming for public feedback on US trade deal revision

By Aerin Einstein-Curtis

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags International trade

© iStock/ chombosan
© iStock/ chombosan
The window to comment on what a proposed revision of the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) should include is soon to close.

The US has outline how it intends to commence negotiations with Canada and Mexico regarding modernization of NAFTA.

The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has been seeking public comments on matters relevant to the revision of the trade agreement in order to inform development of US negotiating positions. It will also hold a public hearing on the issue on June 27.

Industry members who want to address that meeting need to provide a written notification and summary​ of planned testimony by next Monday, said the USTR. Written comments are also due at that time. 

NAFTA was established 25 years ago with Canada and Mexico. The US economy and businesses have changed since that point in time, while the agreement has not been modernized, said the office.

Tariffs on table?

Comments on the impact of removing remaining tariffs or reducing non-tariff barriers on goods traded with Canada and Mexico are welcome, said the USTR. Thoughts on potential modifications to rules of origin or origin procedures and any sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures or other technical barriers that have been imposed also are being sought.

Other areas that could be open to negotiation include remaining barriers to trade in services; digital trade issues; intellectual property right topics; investment details; government procurement, environmental or labor issues; trade items specific to small and medium-sized businesses; and state-owned enterprise issues, said the office.

'Mexico is top market for US corn'

Several feed and grain industry organization have spoken​ previously about their interest in seeing NAFTA continue, as it is considered to have been a boon for those industries who count Canada and Mexico among their largest markets. But members also have outlines areas that could be revised.

When working on agricultural trade, a priority has to be to do no harm, Tom Sleight, president and CEO of the US Grains Council, told us in a previous interview​. “It’s the top market for US corn that we don’t want to see lost or damaged in anyway,”​ he added of Mexico.

“Any trade agreement can be improved,” ​he said. “You have a list, we have a list - we did a lot of that negotiating with the TPP [Trans-Pacific Partnership] in terms of updates for NAFTA, so let’s get after it and iron out issues in the current deal."

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