The new NAFTA objectives focus on transparency and expanded investment.

The new NAFTA objectives focus on transparency and expanded investment.

The United States has set out a revised set of objectives for the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico – with a focus on transparency and expanded investment.

According to a document released by the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) yesterday (20 November), the latest action builds on its "unprecedented, rigorous consultations" with Congress and private sector advisory committees throughout the renegotiation process.

"This update is an important next step in ensuring that the American people continue to know what the Trump Administration is seeking to achieve in a renegotiated NAFTA," said Ambassador Robert Lighthizer. "If we are able to achieve these objectives, we will both modernise and re-balance NAFTA to better serve the interests of our workers, farmers, ranchers and businesses."

The new objectives update the previous negotiating objectives published in July, and reflect the goals of text proposals the US has tabled in the NAFTA negotiations with Canada and Mexico.

They include increased market access for agriculture, new transparency and administrative measures, expanded investment and intellectual property objectives, and completed negotiations on the chapters of Competition and Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises. The objectives retain the first-ever USTR objective for trade deficit reduction, in addition to trade distortion prevention measures.

In relation to the apparel and textiles industry, the original objectives updated rules of origin to encourage more textile and apparel manufacturing in the NAFTA region. These included:

  • Establish origin procedures that streamline the certification and verification of rules of origin and that promote strong enforcement, including with respect to textiles.
  • Maintain existing duty-free access to NAFTA country markets for US textile and apparel products and seek to improve competitive opportunities for exports of US textile and apparel products while taking into account US import sensitivities.

New or modified objectives in the area of trade in goods include, among others:

  • Increase transparency in import and export licensing procedures;
  • Discipline import and export monopolies to prevent trade distortions;
  • Expand market access for re-manufactured goods exports by ensuring that they are not classified as used goods that are restricted or banned;
  • Promote greater regulatory compatibility with respect to key goods sectors, including pharmaceuticals, medical devices, cosmetics, information and communication technology equipment, motor vehicles, and chemicals, and on issues such as energy efficiency, to reduce burdens associated with unnecessary differences in regulation, including through regulatory cooperation where appropriate;
  • Establish specific commitments for trade in products developed through agricultural biotechnologies, including on transparency, cooperation, and managing low level presence issues, and a mechanism for exchange of information and enhanced cooperation on agricultural biotechnologies.

For a more detailed look at the NAFTA renegotiatons, click on the following link:  

NAFTA renegotiation – Key issues for textiles and apparel