U.S. Chamber’s International Policy Update

Chamber Continues NAFTA Advocacy at Mexico City Round
U.S.-India Business Council Launches Mentorship Program for Women Entrepreneurs
Fatheree Addresses APEC Results at Vietnamese Embassy
This Week in Trade: From the Chamber Blogs

Chamber Continues NAFTA Advocacy at Mexico City Round

Negotiators from the United States, Canada, and Mexico met in Mexico City on November 17-21 for the fifth round of negotiations to modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with a focus on advancing the technical aspects of pending proposals and chapters. Delegations were led by the chief negotiators for the three countries, who indicated that progress was made in the areas of sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) rules, customs, trade facilitation, telecommunications, good regulatory practices, anti-corruption, market access for goods, technical barriers to trade (TBT), digital trade, and some sectoral annexes. Despite these advances, no chapters were closed.

On a more fundamental level, the negotiations remain at an impasse over a collection of U.S. proposals dubbed “poison pills” by U.S. Chamber President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue, including the proposed sunset clause, an extreme approach to rule of origins for the auto and textile/apparel sectors, and measures that would undermine investment protection, government procurement, and trade in seasonal produce.

At the conclusion of the round, the three governments issued a joint statement saying: “In response to Ministerial instructions at the end of the Fourth Round, Chief Negotiators concentrated on making progress with the aim of narrowing gaps and finding solutions. As a result, progress was made in a number of chapters. Chief Negotiators reaffirmed their commitment to moving forward in all areas of the negotiations, in order to conclude negotiations as soon as possible.”

Separately, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer issued his own statement that read in part: “While we have made progress on some of our efforts to modernize NAFTA, I remain concerned about the lack of headway. Thus far, we have seen no evidence that Canada or Mexico are willing to seriously engage on provisions that will lead to a rebalanced agreement. Absent rebalancing, we will not reach a satisfactory result.”

As the round began, USTR released an updated set of NAFTA negotiating objectives. This followed increasingly vocal criticism from trade leaders on Capitol Hill that USTR has not provided consulted adequately with lawmakers on the Administration’s priorities in the talks.

Also this week, House Speaker Paul Ryan met with Mexican Economy Secretary Ildefonso Guajardo to discuss the negotiations. In his most direct comments to date on the issue, Speaker Ryan stated afterward: “Secretary Guajardo and I had a very productive meeting today. Mexico has long been one of our country’s most reliable trading partners, which in turn supports nearly 6.7 million American jobs. We are determined to strengthen these ties. Right now, Congress is working to enhance trade relations with our southernmost neighbor to advance our shared priorities. I expect the administration will continue to work with us to modernize NAFTA and bolster our robust relationship with such an important ally.”

The Chamber organized meetings with negotiators from the three countries, U.S. congressional representatives, and diverse business groups on the margins of the rounds, with more than 60 U.S. business representatives taking part. Following the round, the Chamber’s John Murphy participated in a television interview on Fox News’s Journal Editorial Report with the Wall Street Journal’s Paul Gigot to discuss the Administration’s NAFTA proposals and the positions of the business community. The interview may be viewed here.

An intercessional meeting is scheduled in Washington from December 11-15 preceding the sixth NAFTA round in Montreal from January 23-28, 2018.

For further information, please contact Senior Vice President for International Policy John Murphy ([email protected]) or Vice President for the Americas Neil Herrington ([email protected]).

U.S.-India Business Council Launches Mentorship Program for Women Entrepreneurs

The Chamber’s U.S.-India Business Council (USIBC) on November 28 announced a collaborative initiative titled Women for Women Innovators, Social Leaders & Entrepreneurs (WISE) during USIBC’s Road to GES event, “Creating the Foundations of Innovation.” In collaboration with USIBC, WISE will be led by: Nivruti Rai, country head of Intel India and vice president of Data Center Group; Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, chairman and managing director of Biocon Limited; Vanitha Narayanan, chairman of IBM India; Vani Kola, managing director of Kalaari Capital; and Amita Vyas, producer of Girl Rising. WISE will work with key women leaders to offer leadership, mentoring, and development opportunities for women entrepreneurs and innovators in an effort to increase women’s participation in growing India’s economy.

“We are delighted to work with an esteemed group of women leaders as part this collaborative initiative in equipping today’s women entrepreneurs with the skills and direction they need to drive India’s economy forward,” said Nisha Biswal, president of USIBC. “The U.S-India commercial corridor is driven by innovation and women entrepreneurs are central to this endeavor. However, women still remain underrepresented in the economy. USIBC remains committed to working with industry partners and the government of India to empower women entrepreneurs to grow and succeed.”

“Enabling women entrepreneurs to achieve their goals and aspirations is vital for accelerating innovation and building stronger economies,” said Nivruti Rai, chair of WISE. “I am thrilled to be a part of WISE and to help bring together women who are committed to extending support to other women in their entrepreneurial journey. I look forward to working with USIBC, women entrepreneurs, the government, and others in this endeavor.”

The vision of the WISE initiative is “women supporting women to participate in creating the future of India” by offering:

§ A platform to engage multiple stakeholders such as the central and state governments in India, industry bodies, start-ups, and academia to conceptualize and roll out programs to encourage women professionals, innovators and entrepreneurs.

§ Encouraging a policy environment that is conducive to increasing women innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders.

§ Mentoring, training opportunities, and career assistance for women to help them develop appropriate skills and thrive in a globalized economy.

For further information, please contact Vice President of the U.S.-India Business Council Amy Hariani ([email protected]).


Fatheree Addresses APEC Results at Vietnamese Embassy

On November 29, U.S. Chamber Vice President for Asia Jim Fatheree spoke at a dinner hosted by the Embassy of Vietnam to reflect on the outcomes of the APEC Summit earlier in the month. Also participating in the program were Matt Pottinger from the National Security Council, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Susan Thornton, Representative Rick Larson (D-WA), Vietnamese Ambassador to the U.S. Pham Quang Vinh, and U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Dan Kritenbrink.

In his remarks, Fatheree focused on the importance of the bilateral relationship with Vietnam and the Administration’s trade efforts in the region. While pointing to some of the specific results, Fatheree also cautioned: “The United States is falling behind in this critical region. U.S. exporters are losing market share, and we’re not helping to set the rules and standards that will keep American companies competitive for the long term. What we hope to see in coming months is a concrete U.S. economic engagement strategy in the region.” Focusing on economic relations with Vietnam specifically, Fatheree noted that in the absence of TPP, “we need a vehicle or platform to sustain momentum and progress in our bilateral trade and economic relationship.”

For further information, please contact Director for Southeast Asia Natalie Obermann ([email protected]).

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This Week in Trade: From the Chamber Blogs

U.S. Leadership Needed in the Asia-Pacific by James Fatheree

President Donald Trump spent the past two weeks in Asia reassuring our partners of our commitment to the region, promoting U.S. exports of defense and energy products, and working with regional powers to manage security challenges posed by North Korea. While the trip bore positive results in a number of areas, it missed the mark on others.

How to Keep NAFTA Dressed for Success by Steve Lamar

Textile and apparel executives, and their U.S. workers, are nervously eyeing the ongoing negotiations to modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Concerns around possible job losses in this sector are running high and rising.

In 1988 Ronald Reagan Explained Why We Should Be Thankful for Trade by Sean Hackbarth

Trade, and the jobs and opportunity it provides, is also something to be thankful for. Twenty-nine years ago just before Thanksgiving in one of his radio addresses, President Ronald Reagan reminded us to be thankful for the economic prosperity that trade has generated for American workers, families, and businesses.

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