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Mon April 3, 2017

Acting United States Trade Representative (USTR) Stephen Vaughn has sent to members of the Senate Finance Committee and House Ways and Means Committee a draft notification letter declaring its intention to renegotiate the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The draft letter does not start the 90-day notice to open formal negotiations under Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) as it can and most likely will be revised before the formal letter is sent. Included in the draft are specific objectives for the negotiation including trade in goods, rules of origin, technical barriers to trade, intellectual property rights, digital trade, cross-border trade flows and trade remedies. The letter notes the need to update chapters in the agreement that has been in force since 1994, but the Administration does not indicate a possible withdrawal from NAFTA. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has cautioned members of the media that this letter is “not a statement of administration policy,” but it is clear to observers that the draft is a starting point for negotiations. There is no indication of when a formal letter of notification will be sent to Capitol Hill; however, Senate Finance Committee Democrats are insisting that the Administration wait until Robert Lighthizer is confirmed as USTR which could be in late April or early May. 

Earlier this month, PLASTICS reached out to its entire membership with a survey regarding NAFTA, which received a tremendous response from its members. PLASTICS will be sharing insights from the survey with its partners in Canada and Mexico in the hopes of coming up with a set of recommendations from the North American plastics industry on how NAFTA can be improved. We will be reporting back to our members with an overview of the survey results and potential policy solutions in May.