Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) has outlined its priorities in the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the United States, Canada and Mexico in comments submitted to the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR).
OIA urged the administration to do the following:
- Preserve reciprocal duty-free market access for outdoor apparel, footwear and equipment as a primary outcome.
- Include tough and enforceable labor and environmental provisions that match international standards in the core text of the agreement and are subject to the same dispute settlement procedures as the commercial provisions.
OIA believes NAFTA has been beneficial for outdoor companies by eliminating high import tariffs on outdoor apparel, footwear and equipment not made in the USA and creating new export markets for domestic manufacturers. “A unilateral withdrawal from the agreement and the re-imposition of tariffs and other trade barriers would be a devastating blow to the industry, significantly raising costs, hampering innovation and eliminating U.S. jobs,” says the industry trade group.
It also sees NAFTA as an opportunity to advance labor rights and protections for the environment. Whereas the original NAFTA labor and environmental provisions were contained in non-binding side letters, subsequent trade agreements have evolved to include those provisions in the core text of the agreement, subject to binding dispute settlement provisions, says OIA.
The renegotiation of NAFTA is one of the top priorities of President Trump’s “America First” trade policy. Last month, the USTR formally notified Congress of its intent to renegotiate NAFTA. Under the terms of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), or “fast-track” authority, the USTR may begin negotiations 90 days after the notice was issued. A detailed list of negotiating objectives must be released 30 days prior to the start of those talks.