• Back to the Negotiating Table: What’s Next for NAFTA?
  • June 14, 2017 | Authors: Mark D. Herlach; Samina M. Bharmal
  • Law Firm: Eversheds Sutherland (US) LLP - Washington Office
  • The Trump Administration has formally initiated the process to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico. Before negotiations can commence, the Administration, through the United States Trade Representative (USTR), will engage in a fact-finding process. The Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015, commonly known as the Trade Promotion Authority law (TPA), requires the Administration to consult with both chambers of Congress and to receive input from the public.

    Under TPA, if USTR negotiates an international trade agreement, such an agreement must be implemented in accordance with TPA procedures. TPA also requires that negotiations involve extensive notifications and consultations with Congress and the public. In accordance with these procedures, USTR has requested comment on specific issues relevant to the modernization of NAFTA that are of significant importance to businesses with supply chains involving Canada and Mexico. In particular, USTR has invited comments on general and product-specific negotiating objectives for Canada and Mexico and on the identification of particular measures that should be addressed in the negotiations, including customs and trade facilitation, modifications of rules of origin procedures, barriers to trade and competition-related matters, and government procurement.

    Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has indicated that negotiations with Canada and Mexico are anticipated to commence later this year, and the public participation process is underway. Below is a timeline of the current schedule for the renegotiation of this 25 year-old agreement.May 18, 2017 USTR notified Congress of the intent to negotiate modernization of NAFTA. Beginning with this date and until negotiations begin, USTR must periodically brief and meet with Congressional advisory groups.

    June 12, 2017 Deadline for submitting written comments to USTR on NAFTA negotiating objectives.

    June 12, 2017 Deadline for submitting to USTR written notification and summaries of hearing testimony for members of the public desiring to testify at the public hearing.

    June 27-28, 2017 Public hearing on NAFTA negotiating objectives.

    July 17, 2017 Earliest date by which USTR will disclose a comprehensive summary of specific negotiating objectives and methods.

    August 15, 2017 Earliest date by which the United States could begin NAFTA renegotiations with Canada and Mexico.