The governments of the United States, Canada and Mexico have been intensely renegotiating the terms of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a tri-lateral free trade agreement that has been a mainstay of commerce across our continent’s borders for more than 20 years.
While there has been widespread debate about the merits of NAFTA, Livingston International firmly believes the agreement has been a net positive to all three participating economies and has spurred innovation across many industry groups, leading to the creation of new sectors, new jobs and greater international competitiveness.
Livingston’s position on the NAFTA renegotiation
While Livingston supports the modernization of NAFTA, we do not support a wholesale rewrite of the agreement, which would cause immeasurable economic and industrial disruption, particularly to those companies that have heavily invested in highly integrated continental supply chains. Furthermore, it would lead to job loss in key sectors, such as automotive and agriculture, while raising the price of everyday consumer goods.
Our position is not unique. The vast majority of American, Canadian and Mexican industry stakeholders support a “do no harm” approach to the negotiations. Unfortunately, the approach taken by the office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) thus far has aggressively pursued dramatic changes to key aspects of the agreement. These include increasing the U.S. value content of automotive components, eliminating dispute-resolution mechanisms and the introduction of a five-year sunset clause, among others.
What we’re doing to advocate on behalf of North American business
Across North America, businesses from all industries rely heavily on NAFTA to reduce costs and increase competitiveness. We believe it is our role to advocate on their behalf and impress upon policymakers the dramatic impact a U.S. NAFTA withdrawal or rewrite could have on the success of North American industry.
To this end, we have been participating in ongoing meetings with government officials and publicizing information that highlights the virtues of NAFTA and supports a “do no harm” approach.
In the lead up to the formal renegotiation process, the governments of Canada and the U.S. initiated public consultation processes through which organizations and individuals could provide input into what a new NAFTA might look like. Livingston submitted detailed and extensive written feedback to both the USTR and Global Affairs Canada. In addition, we have participated in roundtable discussions and other in-person meetings with officials from:
- The Senate Finance Committee
- The National Security Council
- The Senate Commerce Committee
- The House Ways & Means Committee
- U.S. Customs and Border Protection
- Canada Border Services Agency
These meetings have allowed us to provide direct feedback on the importance of NAFTA to industries across the continent and how the agreement could be modernized without being irrevocably harmed. As the negotiations progress, we will continue to stress to government officials that NAFTA must remain a critical aspect of North American commerce.
Public Opinion Polling
In August, Livingston International released the results of an independent public opinion survey it had commissioned via Harris Poll. The results of the poll, which surveyed respondents across a representative sample of U.S. citizens, dispelled the myth that Americans feel disenfranchised by NAFTA. On the contrary, Americans see NAFTA in the context of the profound economic changes that have taken place since its enactment. They understand a U.S. withdrawal will be detrimental to the interests of U.S. citizens. There is extremely limited support for a U.S. withdrawal from NAFTA and only marginally higher support for the idea that NAFTA is unfair to America.
The results of our poll were publicly distributed and appeared in news coverage in both the U.S. and Canada and continue to be referenced by transportation and logistics media outlets.
View and share the results our poll, the news release and our NAFTA infographic to help us spread the word that NAFTA is critical to North American industry and employment. All these materials and more information can be found at http://www.livingstonintl.com/nafta.
A renegotiated NAFTA or a potentially terminated NAFTA will have widespread implications to businesses, forcing them to adapt to new rules or to a post-NAFTA world. The impact is varied and complex and not always evident on the surface.
To help North American businesses and industry stakeholders better understand how the NAFTA renegotiation and the threat of its termination might affect various industries, economies and business practices, Livingston subject matter experts have been offering in-depth analysis and public commentary via media interviews and editorials published in prominent industry publications.
We encourage you to read and share these analyses with your personal and professional networks. You can find them at http://www.livingstonintl.com/our-experts-speak.
The sixth round of negotiations will take place in Montreal beginning January 23, 2018. This will undoubtedly be a critical round of negotiation as an inability to bridge some of the gaps will likely have a negative effect on the overall outcome of the negotiations, scheduled to wrap up by March 2018. Livingston will be watching developments closely and will continue to speak with policymakers and publicly advocate on behalf of North America’s businesses in hopes of giving them a voice at the table. Our goal is to encourage a mutually beneficial agreement between all three parties that will allow for the continued prosperity and competitiveness of North American enterprise. In the event there are substantial changes to NAFTA or a termination of the agreement, Livingston will have solutions in place to ensure businesses are able to adjust to the new trade rules with limited disruption to trade flows and operations.
We encourage you to contact us with any questions or concerns you may have about our activities. In the interim, we will endeavour to provide you with timely updates regarding the progress of the negotiations, how they may impact your business and the steps you can take to mitigate disruption to your trade activity and general operations.
To learn more about our advocacy efforts or to learn more about the NAFTA renegotiation process and how we can help your business, email us at at RegAffairsCda@livingstonintl.com.