The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative was to begin public hearings on June 27, 2017, on more than 12,000 comments received regarding the modernization and renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The hearings will take place at the U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington, D.C. (See Holland & Knight alert, "Trump Administration Delivers Formal Notice of NAFTA Renegotiations," May 30, 2017.)

In addition, the Mexican Ministry of Economy (SE) launched a website yesterday where interested parties in the NAFTA modernization can post comments and attach electronic files to their proposals. Comments will be accepted until July 26, 2017.

This public consultation is complementary to the 90-day consultations held between the SE and the Strategic Advisory Council on International Negotiations (Consejo Consultivo Estratégico de Negociaciones Internacionales), which sought to define the Mexican parameters and objectives of NAFTA renegotiation.1

In the case of Mexico there is a permanent dialogue between the government and the private sector, through the so called "cuarto de junto" (side-room negotiations), which is backed via the Law of Business Chambers and their Confederations (Ley de Cámaras Empresariales y sus Confederaciones) that allows the private sector to participate in promoting and defending general interests of commerce, services, tourism or industry as appropriate. In addition, the private sector can serve as a consultative and collaborative body in the design, advertising and implementation of policies, programs and instruments for the promotion of the national economic activity, therefore the consultations process will be ongoing.2

However, bearing in mind the relevance and magnitude of NAFTA issues with its 22 chapters, the participation of the Mexican productive sector becomes crucial considering the new issues that could be incorporated, such as electronic commerce, regulation of state trading enterprises, and additional commitments in the energy sector, labor and environmental issues of trade, among others.