USCIB Senior Vice President for Policy and Government Affairs Rob Mulligan spoke at a Coalition of Services Industries (CSI) summit earlier this week on USCIB’s North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) priorities.
USCIB members have benefited from NAFTA and believe the current negotiations should ensure that the beneficial parts are preserved, that is ‘do no harm,’ while also taking advantage of the opportunity to improve it in areas that were not addressed two decades ago.
Mulligan noted that NAFTA can be brought into the 21st century by including provisions that ensure cross-border data flows, include strong e-commerce rules, protect against data localization requirements, and level the playing field for firms competing against state-owned enterprises. More can also be done to improve the customs processes with Canada and Mexico. Increased transparency in the publication of laws, regulations and procedures would improve customs administration. And bringing de minimis thresholds into relative alignment would facilitate trade, especially for small businesses. All of these steps will help U.S. businesses grow and create jobs.
However, Mulligan raised concerns over several moves by the U.S. during the fourth round of negotiations, “Recent U.S. proposals for a sunset clause, to restrict government procurement, allow an opt out of ISDS, and impose new content requirements for autos will not expand trade and we are concerned that they could force eventual failure of NAFTA that would severely impact the U.S. economy and millions of jobs that are tied to NAFTA.”
Mulligan noted that while USCIB member companies strongly support NAFTA and have greatly benefited from it over the last 23 years, they want the governments to avoid changes to existing parts of NAFTA that would harm trade rather than expand it.