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USTR Updates NAFTA Negotiating Objectives

Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has updated the U.S. objectives for the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement that were originally announced July 17. According to a USTR press release, the updated objectives reflect the goals of text proposals tabled by the U.S. in the ongoing NAFTA talks. They include increased market access for agriculture, new transparency and administrative measures, expanded investment and intellectual property rights objectives, and completed negotiations of the chapters on 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.

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 remanufactured 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;

- expand competitive market opportunities for U.S. agricultural goods in NAFTA countries, substantially equivalent to the competitive opportunities afforded to foreign exports into the U.S. market, including by eliminating remaining Canadian tariffs on imports of U.S. dairy, poultry, and egg products;

- seek to eliminate and prevent non-tariff barriers to U.S. agricultural exports such as restrictive administration of tariff rate quotas, as well as discriminatory barriers and unjustified technical barriers, including to U.S. grain and alcohol beverages;

- seek to eliminate unjustified measures that unfairly limit access to Canada’s markets and unfairly decrease market access opportunities in third countries for U.S. dairy products, such as cross subsidization, price discrimination, and price undercutting; and

- 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.

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