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NAFTA Update: US Administration Formally Notifies Congress of Upcoming Talks

On May 18, 2017, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer formally notified the US Congress of President Donald Trump’s intent to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). In letters transmitted to senior Congressional leaders, Ambassador Lighthizer pledged that the administration will consult closely with Congress to ensure its negotiating positions are consistent with the priorities and objectives set out under the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act, Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation passed into law in 2015. The letter acknowledges how much the world has changed in the 25 years since NAFTA was first negotiated and states that the administration aims to modernize NAFTA to include provisions addressing issues like “intellectual property rights, regulatory practices, state-owned enterprises, services, customs procedures, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, labor, environment, and small and medium enterprises.” It also reiterates the administration’s pledge to pursue strong implementation and enforcement of trade commitments.

Ambassador Lighthizer’s letter triggers a 90-day consultation period, during which he and other senior administration officials will work with Congress to develop the country’s negotiating objectives. While formal talks between the US, Canada and Mexico can begin no earlier than mid-August, US and international stakeholders must engage with Trump Administration officials and lawmakers as soon as possible if they wish to be a part of the discussion. A late summer start also leaves a relatively short window for NAFTA negotiations to be concluded before Mexico’s July 2018 presidential elections.

© Copyright 2017 Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLP

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About this Author

Frank Samolis, Squire Patton Boggs Law Firm, International Trade Attorney
Partner

Frank Samolis is co-chair of our International Trade Practice. He advises clients on international trade matters, including trade law, trade policy and legislation, and international trade negotiations. He is also chair of our India Practice Group and the leader of our Colombia Desk, Latin America Task Force.

202-457-5244
Stacy Swanson, Public Policy Specialist, Squire Patton Boggs Law Firm
Public Policy Specialist

Stacy Swanson helps sovereign governments successfully navigate Washington and understand United States Government policy. She regularly provides clients with strategies which effectively leverage existing relationships to advocate policy objectives before the legislative and executive branches of the U.S. government. 

202-457-5627
Ludmilla L. Savelieff, Policy Attorney, Squire Patton Boggs Law Firm
Associate

Ludmilla Savelieff draws on her experience in both domestic and international policy to assist clients on a variety of regulatory, legislative, and legal matters.

Prior to law school, Ms. Savelieff was the Special Assistant to the Chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, where she gained first-hand experience in the daily operations of the Executive Branch. While at the Council, she worked closely with the Chairman and his team of policy advisors in the development and management of significant Administration policies and...

202-457-5125