President Trump announced the United States’ intention to engage in negotiations related to NAFTA on February 2, 2017. Since then, USTR has begun consultations with committees of jurisdiction in Congress and advisory committees, as outlined by The Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 (TPA).

On May 18, 2017, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) notified Congress that President Trump intends to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Through these negotiations, the United States seeks to support higher-paying jobs in the United States and to grow the U.S. economy by improving U.S. opportunities to trade with Canada and Mexico. In the letter to Congress, USTR Lighthizer expressed the Trump Administration’s commitment to concluding the negotiations with timely and substantive results for U.S. consumers, businesses, farmers, ranchers, and workers. These goals will be pursued consistent with U.S. priorities and the negotiating objectives established by Congress in the TPA.

The notification begins the formal process. Formal negotiations will begin no earlier than August 16, 2017. The TPA lays out the framework for consultations and requires the negotiating priorities to be made public 30 days before the talks start.

On May 23, 2017, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) published in the Federal Register a request for comments and notice of public hearing [Docket No. USTR-2017-0006] concerning the negotiating objectives regarding modernization of NAFTA with Canada and Mexico. The notice states, in part:

The United States intends to commence negotiations with Canada and Mexico regarding modernization of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The NAFTA was negotiated more than 25 years ago, and, while our economy and U.S. businesses have changed considerably over that period, NAFTA has not. The United States seeks to support higher-paying jobs in the United States and to grow the U.S. economy by improving U.S. opportunities under NAFTA. Our specific objectives for this negotiation will comply with the specific objectives set forth by Congress in section 102 of the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015.

USTR is seeking public comments on matters relevant to the modernization of NAFTA in order to inform development of U.S. negotiating positions. To assist USTR as it develops its negotiating objectives and positions for the agreement, interested persons are invited to submit comments and/or oral testimony at a public hearing on matters relevant to the modernization of the NAFTA. In particular, comments are being sought regarding:

(a) General and product-specific negotiating objectives for Canada and Mexico in the context of a NAFTA modernization.

(b) 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.

(c) Treatment of specific goods (described by HTSUS numbers), including comments on—

(1) Product-specific import or export interests or barriers,

(2) Experience with particular measures that should be addressed in negotiations, and

(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 the NAFTA.

(d) Customs and trade facilitation issues that should be addressed in the negotiations.

(e) Appropriate modifications to rules of origin or origin procedures for NAFTA qualifying goods.

(f) Any unwarranted sanitary and phytosanitary measures and technical barriers to trade imposed by Canada and Mexico that should be addressed in the negotiations.

(g) Relevant barriers to trade in services between the United States and Canada and Mexico that should be addressed in the negotiations.

(h) Relevant digital trade issues that should be addressed in the negotiations.

(i) Relevant trade-related intellectual property rights issues that should be addressed in the negotiations.

(j) Relevant investment issues that should be addressed in the negotiations.

(k) Relevant competition-related matters that should be addressed in the negotiations.

(l) Relevant government procurement issues that should be addressed in the negotiations.

(m) Relevant environmental issues that should be addressed in the negotiations.

(n) Relevant labor issues that should be addressed in the negotiations.

(o) Issues of particular relevance to small and medium-sized businesses that should be addressed in the negotiations.

(p) Relevant trade remedy issues that should be addressed in the negotiations.

(q) Relevant state-owned enterprise issues that should be addressed in the

negotiations.

Baker McKenzie’s North American International Commercial and Trade Practice Group members can assist you in the preparation of comments.

If you wish to testify at the hearing, you must provide written notification and a summary of your testimony to USTR by Monday, June 12, 2017. If you wish to submit written comments, they are also due by Monday, June 12, 2017. A hearing will be held at 9 a.m. in the Main Hearing Room of the United States International Trade Commission, 500 E Street SW, Washington, D.C. 20436, on Tuesday, June 27, 2017.

You should submit notifications of intent to testify and written comments through the Federal eRulemaking Portal: https://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments in part 3 of the Federal Register notice. Special rules apply for submitting Business Confidential information. Comments may be typed directly into the Federal eRulemaking Portal or uploaded. Comments will be placed in the docket and open to public inspection, except business confidential information. For alternatives to on-line submissions, please contact Yvonne Jamison, Trade Policy Staff Committee, at (202) 395–3475.