Canada, Mexico and United States hold first rounds of NAFTA renegotiation

Following U.S. President Trump’s initiative to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the first round of negotiation took place in Washington, D.C. from August 16–20, 2017 and the second in Mexico City from September 1–5, 2017. Additional rounds are scheduled for September 23–27, 2017 in Canada and October in the United States.

The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) published its negotiating objectives on July 17, 2017. The objectives with respect to investment are to “reduce or eliminate barriers to U.S. investment in all sectors” and to secure rights for U.S. investors in NAFTA countries “while ensuring that NAFTA country investors in the United States are not accorded greater substantive rights than domestic investors.” The USTR is also reportedly preparing a proposal requiring NAFTA countries to opt in to the investor–state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism.

On August 14, 2017 Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland outlined Canada’s core objectives. She stated that “NAFTA should be made more progressive” by including strong provisions on labour, environment, gender equality and indigenous peoples. Freeland also stressed the need to reform ISDS “to ensure that governments have an unassailable right to regulate in the public interest.”