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American businesses outline priorities for NAFTA renegotiation
Kirill Abbakumov   on Monday, September 4, 2017 at 12:00:00 am

As the U.S., Canada, and Mexico meet in Washington D.C. to discuss the modernization of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the business community welcomes the opportunity to modernize the agreement, offering key objectives for the Trump administration to consider during renegotiation discussions.

Trade with Canada and Mexico is a significant driver of U.S. economic growth, with more than 125,000 small and medium-size businesses exporting to largest markets for American goods in Canada and Mexico. Most important, trade with Canada and Mexico supports 14 million American jobs and NAFTA is the foundation of this prosperous relationship. Therefore, the American business community believes that:

  • It is essential not to disrupt the $1.3 trillion in annual trade that crosses the borders because of NAFTA. Reverting to the high tariffs and other trade barriers that were in place before the agreement could risk millions of American jobs.
  • To avoid lost exports and lost jobs, NAFTA should be amended, not ended. The Agreement already has an amendment process built in to ensure that it can be modified as needed. This process should be used while preserving the many parts of the agreement that are working well.
  • The Agreement should be kept trilateral, as transitioning to entirely new bilateral agreements could interrupt commerce. Introducing divergent rules for Canada and for Mexico would only raise costs for businesses, sapping competitiveness and hobbling industries.
  • S. negotiators must consult Congress by following the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) law, which the U.S. Chamber of Commerce helped pass in 2015. TPA already has the buy-in of lawmakers and the business and farming communities. It will also help build support for a modernization agreement in Congress.
  • Negotiations must move quickly as uncertainty about the future of free trade with Canada and Mexico would suppress economic growth in all three countries. It could also spur a political reaction that would harm existing trade ties.

SMEs expect such an approach to contribute to an even stronger NAFTA that would reinforce American trade relationships with Canada and Mexico, and reaffirm North American competitiveness in the global economy.