Renegotiating NAFTA: A Policy Forum

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Date: Wednesday, April 19, 2017 -12:00pm to 1:30pm

Location: Rayburn House Office Building 2075, 45 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20515

Since NAFTA’s ratification in 1993, its provisions have become ingrained in the North American economy. Agriculture exporters and services providers depend on it. Manufacturers have built elaborate supply chains based on its assurance of open markets. The administration’s decision to renegotiate NAFTA seeks to correct perceived shortcomings. According to an administration draft notification to Congress, chief among its goals is to take “swift action to revise” the “persistent goods deficit with Canada and Mexico.” The draft lays out a highly ambitious menu of other objectives. Indeed, NAFTA is an old agreement and needs revision. But at bottom, if the United States expects Canada and Mexico to substantially increase their U.S. imports, what will the United States have to offer our partners as an incentive to do so?

In a dynamic, open forum including audience Q+A, the panel of experts offered insights into how NAFTA renegotiation might proceed. The panel discussion was moderated by J. Bradford Jensen, Senior Policy Scholar, Center for Business and Public Policy and McCrane/Shaker Chair in International Business, Georgetown University McDonough School of Business. Panelists included:

  • José Díaz Briseño, Washington, D.C. correspondent, Reforma (remarks begin at 33:46 )
  • Matt Gold, Adjunct Professor of Law, Fordham University School of Law, former Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for North America (remarks begin at 1 4: 27 )
  • Jason Kearns, Chief International Trade Counsel, Committee on Ways and Means in the U.S. House of Representatives – Democratic Staff (remarks begin at 4:03 )
  • Ambassador Darci Vetter, former Chief Agricultural Negotiator, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (remarks begin at 23:46 )

Jason Kearns discussed that the Administration has recognized that it needs Congress to approve a renegotiated NAFTA and so is following the trade promotion authority (TPA) process to gain that approval, along with what the TPA process entails. Matt Gold continued discussion of the legal frameworks and of the complexities of the agreement and applicable statutes that implement it. Darci Vetter highlighted the agricultural sector and the related negotiation process and strategies, reminding that how the mandate/modalities are defined has a huge bearing on the outcome. José Díaz Briseño offered a Mexican perspective on the pending renegotiation and remarked on changes that would appear to demand much of the Mexican government and affect Mexico’s economy.

Policy Event Summary

This seminar is part of the Georgetown Center for Business and Public Policy’s Georgetown on the Hill series at which we convene policymakers, academics, and industry experts to discuss important economic policy issues of the day.Event File: 

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Policy Event Summary GOTH 4.19.17.pdf