The Trump administration formally notified Congress of its intent to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico, starting a 90-day clock for statutorily required consultations. This notification means that NAFTA negotiations with Canada and Mexico can begin no earlier than August 16, 2017. In the letter from U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, the administration indicated it would consult closely with Congress to develop negotiating positions. The letter notes that while NAFTA was negotiated 25 years ago, the U.S. economy and businesses have changed, resulting in outdated provisions in the agreement. In particular, negotiations will include “new provisions to address intellectual property rights, regulatory practices, state-owned enterprises, services, customs procedures, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, labor, environment, and small and medium enterprises.”
In very brief comments, Lighthizer stated, “Today, President Trump fulfilled one of his key promises to the American people … USTR will now continue consultations with Congress and American stakeholders to create an agreement that advances the interests of America’s workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses.” The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative in the near future will publish a notice in the Federal Register requesting public input on the direction, focus and content of the NAFTA negotiations.