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NAFTA renegotiation and modernization consultations

NAFTAThe Government of Canada is requesting submissions from persons interested in the renegotiation and modernization of the North American Free Trade Agreement (Canada Gazette, Volume 151, No. 22 – June 3, 2017). The purpose of these consultations is to identify “key interests and concerns” about NAFTA. Submissions are due by July 18, 2017. The text of NAFTA can be found at

The Government of Canada is seeking views on key areas of NAFTA that could be clarified or improved, as well as new areas that should be added to NAFTA. The areas of NAFTA subject to consultations include:

  • National Treatment and Market Access for Goods (Annex 300-A: Trade and Investment in the Automotive Sector; Annex 300-B: Textile and Apparel Goods)
  • Rules of Origin (Annex 401: Specific Rules of Origin)
  • Customs Procedures
  • Energy and Basic Petrochemicals
  • Agriculture and Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures
  • Emergency Action
  • Standards-Related Measures
  • Government Procurement
  • Investment
  • Cross-Border Trade in Services
  • Telecommunications
  • Financial Services
  • Competition Policy, Monopolies and State Enterprises
  • Temporary Entry for Business Persons
  • Intellectual Property
  • Review and Dispute Settlement in Antidumping/Countervailing Duty Matters
  • Institutional Arrangements and Dispute Settlement Procedures
  • the Annexes (e.g. Reservations for Existing Measures and Liberalization Commitments; Reservations for Future Measures; Activities Reserved to the State; Exceptions from Most-Favored-Nation Treatment; Quantitative Restrictions).

The Government of Canada has also invited submissions about NAFTA’s side agreements on labour and the environment.

The new areas that may be added into NAFTA include, but are not limited to:

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

Submissions can be emailed to: NAFTA – Consultations – and should include:

  1. the contributor’s name and address and, if applicable, the name of the contributor’s organization, institution or business;
  2. the specific issues being addressed; and
  3. precise information on the rationale for the positions taken, including any significant impact it may have on Canada’s domestic or international interests.

In the United States, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) similarly published a request in the Federal Register for comments on negotiating objectives regarding the modernization of NAFTA, on May 23, 2017. According to the USTR request, the U.S. administration is seeking comments “[t]o assist USTR as it develops its negotiating objectives and positions for the agreement[.]”  Interested parties are invited to submit comments in writing, or may seek to provide oral testimony at a public hearing.  Written comments must be received no later than Monday, June 12, 2017; the oral hearing is scheduled to be held on Tuesday, June 27, 2017 at the U.S. International Trade Commission.  The USTR request invites comments on a broad range of issues, including negotiating objectives, the economic impact of removing any remaining tariffs or non-tariff barriers, comments directed to specific goods, rules of origin, digital trade, intellectual property, government procurement, environment and labor, trade remedies, and several other trade-related issues.

By: Richard Dearden and Wendy Wagner, Gowling WLG International Limited

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