The Canadian Chamber of Commerce, in cooperation with the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, is looking ahead now that the Trump administration in the U.S. has notified Congress that it plans to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
In a “5 Minutes for Business” brief to members, Hendrik Brakel, the senior director, Economic, Financial and Tax Policy at the Canadian Chamber, has outlined what might be expected now that this 90-day “heads up” period has been initiated by the U.S.
“Every special interest and aggrieved Wisconsin dairy producer will have a chance to provide input during the consultation period,” writes Brakel. “Then whatever new agreement is negotiated must pass the (U.S.) House and the Senate.”
Brakel notes that “all three governments—Canada, the U.S. and Mexico—want NAFTA 2.0 wrapped up ASAP. Canada wants to end the uncertainty that is hurting investment, and for our partners it is even more urgent.”
Pointing out that the original Free Trade Agreement involving Canada and the U.S. took 18 months to negotiate (“and our governments were the closest of friends during this period—May 1986 to October 4, 1987”), Brakel questions whether it is even possible to renegotiate NAFTA as soon as some politicians would hope.
“There may be another way,” writes Brakel of the OCC. “The USTR (U.S. Trade Representative) referred to NAFTA modernization as opposed to renegotiation. In the past, NAFTA has been amended extensively without going back to Congress. We could add a chapter on e-commerce, fix the rules of origin and sign a bunch of side letters that could give the Americans the win they need.”
Brakel closes his “5 Minutes for Business” letter with a word of optimism: “Let’s hope they take what they can get. Otherwise, NAFTA 2.0 is doomed.”
The complete edition of this “5 Minutes for Business” (a downloadable PDF) can be seen HERE.