NAFTA This Week: USTR Hearings
Today wraps up three days of hearings hosted by USTR regarding the renegotiation of NAFTA. The hearings come about six weeks before the United States will begin discussions with Canada and Mexico, no earlier than August 16.
Over the course of 3 days, USTR officials heard from a number of U.S. industries regarding their interests and goals for an overhauled NAFTA. These industries included steel and metal, auto, apparel, agriculture, and farming, among others. Representatives from the entertainment industry, as well as the NFL, also presented their views on how a renegotiated agreement should benefit their industries. USTR heard from over 100 witnesses who expressed a variety of views regarding the effectiveness of NAFTA in its current form and provided opinions on how to improve the agreement.
With the administration’s focus on strengthening American manufacturing, several witnesses emphasized having strong “Buy American” policies that favor domestically produced products. In his testimony, Representative Pascrell (NJ) stressed that a renegotiated NAFTA must not weaken the Buy American policies that currently benefit U.S. producers. Rules of origin issues also took center stage, with certain auto industry representatives calling for strengthened tracing requirements for NAFTA rule of origin automobiles, and steel producers requesting the application of tracing requirements to steel. The administration will have to take into account the wide spectrum of views presented at the hearings, as well the thousands of written comments it has received in recent weeks, when USTR representatives sit down at the negotiating table later this summer.
In a previous post, we discussed the general timeline for NAFTA renegotiations established by the administration earlier this year. Check back for regular updates on NAFTA.