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Storm clouds ahead for NAFTA?

     NAFTA storm clouds

The U.S. is looking for significant changes in NAFTA, based on a letter the Trump administration recently sent to Congress.  The specific changes, targeting three key areas of trade, include demands that could be contentious for the other NAFTA members, Canada and Mexico.  

Trade in Goods:

  • expand current market access on the broadest possible basis
  • eliminate non-tariff barriers, including permit and licensing barriers, and other trade restrictive measures
  • improve competitive opportunities for textile and apparel exports while addressing U.S. import sensitivities
  • level the playing field on tax treatment


  • improve World Trade Organization trade facilitation commitments, including rules requiring each NAFTA party to conduct customs operations with transparency, efficiency, and predictability and to not apply Customs laws, regulations, decisions, and rulings in a manner that would create unwarranted procedural obstacles to international trade
  • seek terms for cooperative efforts regarding enforcement of Customs rules and related issues, including in the areas of trade in textiles and apparel, agricultural products of concern, and enhanced ability to prevent and address anti-dumping and countervailing duty evasion and transshipment

Rules of Origin:

  • seek rules of origin that ensure NAFTA supports production and jobs in the U.S., procedures for applying these rules, and provisions to address circumvention to ensure that NAFTA preferential duty rates apply only to goods eligible to receive such treatment without creating unnecessary obstacles to trade

Acting U.S. Trade Representative Steven Vaughn said changes in NAFTA are necessary to correct “the persistent U.S. deficit in goods trade” with Canada and Mexico and “respond to new 21st century challenges.”  An opposing view has been presented by other trade representatives, who say NAFTA has benefited all three countries.

For more information, contact Brian Rowe, Director – Customs Compliance & Regulatory Affairs.

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