U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has released a detailed and comprehensive summary of the negotiating objectives for the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). In a brief statement upon the release, Lighthizer stated that the Trump administration will seek an agreement “that reduces the U.S. trade deficit and is fair for all Americans by improving market access in Canada and Mexico for U.S. manufacturing, agriculture, and services.” The summary notes that the “new NAFTA must continue to break down barriers to American exports. This includes the elimination of unfair subsidies, market-distorting practices by state owned enterprises, and burdensome restrictions of intellectual property. The new NAFTA will be modernized to reflect 21st century standards and will reflect a fairer deal, addressing America’s persistent trade imbalances in North America. It will ensure that the United States obtains more open, equitable, secure, and reciprocal market access, and that our trade agreement with our two largest export markets is effectively implemented and enforced.”
The negotiating objectives include a new digital economy chapter and stronger labor and environmental obligations that are currently in NAFTA side agreements. These objectives reflect the negotiating standards established by Congress in the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015, which requires that the USTR release objectives at least 30 days before formal negotiations begin. Negotiations will now start no earlier than August 16, 2017.