In advance of the 5th round of NAFTA negotiations, the U.S. Trade Representative updated its NAFTA negotiating objectives. A notable inclusion is a commitment to “Establish specific commitments for trade in products developed through agricultural biotechnologies, including on transparency, cooperation, and managing low level presence issues, and a mechanism for exchange of information and enhanced cooperation on agricultural biotechnologies.” The update is seen as an action to help clear the way for two deputy USTR nominees – Dennis Shea to be ambassador to the WTO and C.J. Mahoney to be deputy USTR for China, Africa and the Western Hemisphere - to move through the confirmation process after Senate Finance Committee ranking member Ron Wyden (D-OR) put a hold on them. Read the summary of objectives here, with the sections with changes highlighted.
Early reports from Mexico City are that the mood remains the same as it has been over the past few weeks – uncertain but hopeful. No great breakthroughs are expected during the 5th round but the technical negotiators will continue to make progress on a number of non-contentious chapters. There will not be a ministerial meeting during the round. A Sixth (Technical) Round will be conducted in Washington, DC: December 11. At the 6th round not all chapters will be covered as many of the staff from the three parties will be at the WTO Ministerial, which will be taking place at the same time.
In the U.S. over 168 Food and Agriculture industry stakeholders, sent NAFTA related letters to all 50 U.S. State governors. An individualized version of the letter was also sent to state agriculture commissioners and each state’s leader of economic development. A final copy of the general letter is attached and can be found here.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce released an analysis of 12 states it believes would be hardest hit by a NAFTA withdrawal. The states included: MI, WI, ND, TX, MO, OH, IA, IN, AZ, NE, PA & NC. You can find the full analysis here.