Trilateral statement released on third round of NAFTA negotiations

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, Mexican Secretary of the Economy Ildefonso Guajardo and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer successfully concluded the third round of the renegotiation and modernization of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) September 27.

Negotiators made significant progress in several areas through the consolidation of text proposals, narrowing gaps and agreeing to elements of the negotiating text. Negotiators are now working from consolidated texts in most areas, demonstrating a commitment from all parties to advance discussions in the near term.

In particular, meaningful advancements were made in the areas of telecommunications, competition policy, digital trade, good regulatory practices, and customs and trade facilitation. Parties also exchanged initial offers in the area of market access for government procurement.

Importantly, discussions were substantively completed in the area of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), effectively concluding negotiations on that chapter pending specific outcomes in related discussions. The inclusion of a chapter on SMEs in a modernized NAFTA recognizes the contribution SMEs make to our economies. The chapter will serve to support the growth and development of SMEs by enhancing their ability to participate in, and benefit from, the opportunities created by this agreement, including through cooperative activities, information sharing and the establishment of a NAFTA Trilateral SME Dialogue, involving the private sector, non-government organizations and other stakeholders.

In addition to a specific chapter on SMEs, negotiators are working on modernizing other aspects of the agreement that would benefit SMEs, including customs and trade facilitation, digital trade and good regulatory practices. Discussions also touched upon energy trade, gender and Indigenous peoples.

The competition chapter was also advanced substantively. Negotiation on this chapter is expected to conclude prior to the next round.

Maritime Editorial