NAFTA Negotiations Continue

The third round of NAFTA negotiations were held in Ottawa, Canada, from September 23 – 27, 2017. Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland; Mexican Secretary of Economy Ildefonso Guajardo, and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, concluded that agreed changes will increase the region’s competitiveness.

Highlights include:

  • A new chapter focused on small and medium-size enterprises (SME) has been added to the agreement. This chapter will stimulate growth in startups and micro businesses and establishes a NAFTA Trilateral SME Dialogue.
  • Significant progress was made in the areas of competitiveness, customs, telecommunications, digital trade, and sanitary measurements.

Challenges ahead:

  • The U.S. aims to eliminate private arbitration panels which can overrule tariffs, whereas Canada seeks to keep this chapter which is considered one of the “great achievements of the initial deal” by Freeland.
  • Mexico’s low wages became an increasing point of debate. Lighthizer expressed interest in having higher wages which will make it less attractive for manufacturers.

The fourth round of NAFTA Negotiations are scheduled for October 11-15 in Washington, D.C.