Introduction: Summary of Objective for the NAFTA Renegotiation
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) entered into force over 23 years ago, and since that time, the U.S. economy and global trading relationships have undergone substantial changes.
The America that existed when NAFTA was signed is not the America that we see today. Some Americans have benefited from new market access provided by the Agreement. It contributed to the linking of the continent through trade, while at the same time NAFTA provided much needed market access for American farmers and ranchers.
But NAFTA also created new problems for many American workers. Since the deal came into force in 1994, trade deficits have exploded, thousands of factories have closed, and millions of Americans have found themselves stranded, no longer able to utilize the skills for which they had been trained. For years, politicians promising to renegotiate the deal gave American workers hope that they would stop the bleeding. But none followed up.
In June 2016, then-candidate Donald J. Trump made a promise to the American people: he would renegotiate NAFTA or take us out of the agreement. As President, he immediately started work to fulfill that promise. The first NAFTA consultations began just a few weeks after the President took office.
On May 18th, President Trump became the first American president to begin renegotiating a comprehensive free trade agreement like NAFTA. At the direction of the President, and following more than three months of Administration consultations with Congress, U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer announced the Administration’s intention to renegotiate the deal.
Since Ambassador Lighthizer notified Congress of the renegotiation, USTR has been conducting extensive consultations with Congress, stakeholders, and the public at large. President Trump is listening.
The Trump Administration has held dozens of meetings to solicit advice and input. In addition, USTR sought public comments and received more than 12,000 responses. Finally, USTR held three days of public hearings on the negotiations and heard from more than 140 witnesses, who provided testimony on a wide range of sectors, including agriculture, manufacturing, services, and digital trade. During this process, the Administration received valuable advice which has directly impacted the development of the negotiating objectives.
Now, in accordance with section 105(a)(1)(D) of the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015, the Administration is providing this summary of specific objectives with respect to the NAFTA negotiations. These objectives reflect the valuable input
received during the preceding consultation period from Congress, advisory committees, other agencies, and members of the public. USTR will continue to consult with Congress and stakeholders and we will update these objectives as we advance our work on these important negotiations.
Once negotiations begin, the Administration intends to ensure truly fair trade by seeking the highest standards covering the broadest possible range of goods and services. A successful renegotiation of NAFTA will further the negotiating objectives of the United States, as described in this document, and will benefit the economies and populations of the United States and of our trading partners. The result will be a much better agreement for Americans.
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.
Under these objectives, a new NAFTA will give our farmers, ranchers, service providers, and other businesses new opportunities to grow their exports and reclaim American prosperity. But most importantly, the new NAFTA will promote a market system that functions more efficiently, leading to reciprocal and balanced trade among the parties.
If we succeed in achieving these objectives — maintaining and improving market access for American agriculture, manufacturing, and services — then we look forward to a seamless transition to the new NAFTA.
Office of the United States Trade Representative – Executive Office of The President – Summary of Objectives for the NAFTA Renegotiation – Monday, July 17, 2017