CalChamber Urges Members to Write in Support of Modernizing NAFTA

The California Chamber of Commerce is urging members to send a letter to the Federal Register Notice (FRN) by Monday, June 12 supporting the modernization of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

NAFTA was negotiated more than 25 years ago, and, while the U.S economy and businesses have changed considerably over that period, NAFTA has not. The United States seeks to support higher-paying jobs in the United States and to grow the U.S. economy by improving U.S. opportunities to trade with Canada and Mexico. To that end, the U.S. government is seeking public comments on matters relevant to the modernization of NAFTA in order to inform the development of U.S. negotiating positions.

The CalChamber will be submitting comments to the FRN as well. The CalChamber actively supported the creation of NAFTA among the United States, Canada and Mexico, comprising 484.3 million people with combined annual trade with the United States being around $1.069 trillion in 2016. In 2016, goods exports totaled over $496.919 billion while goods imports totaled nearly $572.217 billion. The CalChamber, in keeping with long-standing policy, enthusiastically supports free trade worldwide, expansion of international trade and investment, fair and equitable market access for California products abroad, and elimination of disincentives that impede the international competitiveness of California business.

On February 2, President Donald Trump announced the United States’ intention to engage in negotiations related to NAFTA. Since then, the U.S.Trade Representative (USTR) has begun consultations with committees of jurisdiction in Congress and advisory committees.

On May 18, USTR Robert Lighthizer notified Congress that President Trump intends to renegotiate NAFTA.

In the letter to Congress, Ambassador Lighthizer expresses the Trump administration’s commitment to concluding the negotiations with timely and substantive results for U.S. consumers, businesses, farmers, ranchers, and workers. These goals will be pursued consistent with U.S. priorities and the negotiating objectives established by Congress in the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 (TPA). Negotiations will begin no earlier than August 16.

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative is responsible for developing and coordinating U.S. international trade, commodity, and direct investment policy, and overseeing negotiations with other countries.

 Submit Comments

The FRN seeks comments on a total of 17 topics that will help inform the direction, focus, and content of the NAFTA negotiations. Topics include:

  • Digital Trade
  • Intellectual Property Rights
  • Regulatory Practices
  • State-Owned Enterprises
  • Services
  • Customs Procedures
  • Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures
  • Labor
  • Environment
  • Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises

Directions for submitting comments via the Federal Register Notice:

  1. Visit www.regulations.gov and search for docket number USTR-2017-0006
  2. Click the “Comment Now!” button to make your voice heard

Written comments must be submitted to the U.S. Trade Representative no later than Monday, June 12, 2017. A hearing will be held on Tuesday, June 27, 2017 at 9:00 am, in the Main Hearing Room at the U.S. International Trade Commission, 500 E St. SW, Washington DC, 20436. Persons wishing to testify orally at the hearing must provide written notification of their intention by Monday, June 12, 2017.

Robert E. Lighthizer Sworn in as U.S. Trade Representative

Robert E. Lighthizer was sworn in as the 18th U.S. Trade Representative in May 2017.

An experienced trade negotiator and litigator, Ambassador Lighthizer brings a history of tough U.S. trade enforcement and a record of standing up for American workers, farmers, manufacturers, and businesses.

At the time he was chosen by President Trump to serve as USTR, Ambassador Lighthizer was a partner at the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP (Skadden), where he practiced international trade law for over 30 years. His work there on behalf of American workers and businesses in the heavy manufacturing, agricultural, high tech, and financial services industries opened markets to U.S. exports and defended U.S. industries from unfair trade practices. He was lead counsel for scores of trade enforcement cases and was a well-known advocate for the type of “America First” trade policies supported by President Trump.

Before joining Skadden, Ambassador Lighthizer served as Deputy USTR for President Ronald Reagan. During his tenure, Ambassador Lighthizer negotiated more than two dozen bilateral international agreements, including agreements on steel, automobiles, and agricultural products. As Deputy USTR, he also served as Vice Chairman of the Board of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.

Before becoming Deputy USTR, Ambassador Lighthizer was chief of staff of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee for Chairman Bob Dole. In this position, Lighthizer was a key player in enacting the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981, the most significant tax reform in decades, as well as the other basic elements of the Reagan economic program.

Ambassador Lighthizer earned a bachelor’s degree at Georgetown University and his law degree from Georgetown University Law Center.

Staff Contact: Susanne T. Stirling