U.S. Trade Representative Releases NAFTA Renegotiation Objectives

On 17 July 2017, The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) released the “Summary of Objectives for the NAFTA Renegotiation”. In its document, USTR contends that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), while benefiting Americans by increasing access to the Mexican and Canadian markets, has negatively impacted the U.S. trade deficit, resulted in the closure of U.S. based factories, and has left many Americans unemployed.

In preparation for the renegotiation, which will formally begin in mid-August, USTR held several meetings to solicit input from various stakeholders. Over the course of three days of hearings on NAFTA, testimony was heard from over 140 witnesses across various industry sectors.

At a largely high level, the document outlines objectives in a number of areas including digital trade, trade in services, phytosanitary measures, customs, trade facilitation, rules of origin, intellectual property, labor, environment, trade remedies, anti-corruption, dispute resolution, and more.  A sample of the objectives related to Customs and trade facilitation includes:

  • Build on and set high standards for implementation of WTO agreements involving trade facilitation and customs valuation.
  • Increase transparency by ensuring that all customs laws, regulations, and procedures are published on the Internet as well as designating points of contact for questions from traders.
  • Provide for new disciplines on timing of [cargo] release, automation, and use of guarantees.
  • Provide for a de minimis shipment value comparable to the U.S. de minimis value of $800.
  • Provide for automation of import, export, and transit processes, including through supply chain integration; reduced import, export, and transit forms, documents, and formalities; enhanced harmonization of customs data requirements; and advance rulings regarding the treatment that will be provided to a good at the time of importation.
  • Provide for electronic payment of duties, taxes, fees, and charges imposed on or in connection with importation or exportation.
  • Provide for the use of risk management systems for customs control and post-clearance audit procedures to ensure compliance with customs and related laws.
  • Provide for disciplines on the use of customs brokers and preshipment inspection.
  • Update and strengthen the rules of origin, as necessary, to ensure that the benefits of NAFTA go to products genuinely made in the United States and North America.
  • Ensure accelerated and full implementation of the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).
  • Strengthen existing procedures and create new procedures to address AD/CVD duty evasion, including the ability to conduct AD/CVD verification visits.

For more information on the U.S. Summary of Objectives for the NAFTA Renegotiation, please visit the USTR website.

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