NAFTA Update: November 30, 2017

Guajardo Visits Washington and Canada Looks Beyond NAFTA

In the lull before the sixth round of NAFTA negotiations, scheduled for January 23-28, 2018 in Montreal, Mexican Secretary of the Economy Ildefonso Guajardo visited Washington, D.C. to meet with key decision-makers. On November 28th, he met with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Secretary of the Economy Wilbur Ross, and on the 29th he met with key representatives and senators including President of the House Paul Ryan, the Chairman of the Media and Procedures Committee, members of the Trade Subcommittee, and Senators Orrin Hatch, Ron Wyden, and Tom Udall. In all of the meetings Guajardo stressed the importance of NAFTA to both the American and Mexican economies and to the competitiveness of the region.

Meanwhile, Canada has taken another step with regards to its softwood lumber dispute with the U.S. Rather than relying solely on NAFTA’s Chapter 19 dispute resolution mechanism, the Canadian government requested World Trade Organization (WTO) consultations on the issue. This request was submitted on November 28th, and Canada filed to have the issue reviewed under NAFTA on November 14th. These developments reflect the Canadian fear that the U.S. might seek to drag the fight on for years so that the domestic price of lumber increases.

In a more constructive development, the Canada-U.S. Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC) published a call for suggestions on how to improve regulatory cooperation between the two countries. They are particularly interested in comments on issues or sectors that should be considered for future cooperation. Submissions are requested via email by January 8, 2018.