[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 98 (Tuesday, May 23, 2017)]
[Notices]
[Pages 23699-23700]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-10603]


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OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES TRADE REPRESENTATIVE


Request for Comments on Negotiating Objectives Regarding 
Modernization of the North American Free Trade Agreement With Canada 
and Mexico

AGENCY: Office of the United States Trade Representative.

ACTION: Request for comments and notice of public hearing.

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SUMMARY: The United States intends to commence negotiations with Canada 
and Mexico regarding modernization of the North American Free Trade 
Agreement (NAFTA). The NAFTA was negotiated more than 25 years ago, 
and, while our economy and U.S. businesses have changed considerably 
over that period, NAFTA has not. The United States seeks to support 
higher-paying jobs in the United States and to grow the U.S. economy by 
improving U.S. opportunities under NAFTA. Our specific objectives for 
this negotiation will comply with the specific objectives set forth by 
Congress in section 102 of the Bipartisan Congressional Trade 
Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015. The Office of the United 
States Trade Representative (USTR) is seeking public comments on 
matters relevant to the modernization of NAFTA in order to inform 
development of U.S. negotiating positions.

DATES: If you want to testify at the hearing, you must provide written 
notification and a summary of your testimony by Monday, June 12, 2017. 
Written comments also are due by Monday, June 12, 2017. A hearing will 
be held at 9 a.m. in the Main Hearing Room of the United States 
International Trade Commission, 500 E Street SW., Washington, DC 20436, 
on Tuesday, June 27, 2017.

ADDRESSES: You should submit notifications of intent to testify and 
written comments through the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments in 
part 3 below. For alternatives to on-line submissions, please contact 
Yvonne Jamison, Trade Policy Staff Committee, at (202) 395-3475.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For procedural questions concerning 
written comments or participation in the public hearing, contact Yvonne 
Jamison at (202) 395-3475. Direct all other questions regarding this 
notice to Daniel Watson, Deputy Assistant United States Trade 
Representative for North America, at (202) 395-9587.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

1. Background

    The United States commenced bilateral trade negotiations with 
Canada more than 30 years ago, resulting in the U.S.-Canada Free Trade 
Agreement, which entered into force on January 1, 1989. In 1991, 
bilateral talks began with Mexico, which Canada joined. The NAFTA 
followed, entering into force on January 1, 1994. Tariffs were 
eliminated progressively and all duties and quantitative restrictions, 
with the exception of those on a limited number of agricultural 
products traded with Canada, were eliminated by 2008. NAFTA also 
includes chapters covering rules of origin, customs procedures, 
agriculture and sanitary and phytosanitary measures, government 
procurement, investment, trade in services, protection of intellectual 
property rights, and dispute settlement procedures. For the full NAFTA 
text, please see https://www.nafta-sec-alena.org/Home/Texts-of-the-Agreement/North-American-Free-Trade-Agreement.
    On May 18, 2017, following consultations with relevant 
Congressional committees, the U.S. Trade Representative informed 
Congress that the President intends to commence negotiations with 
Canada and Mexico with respect to the NAFTA.

2. Public Comment and Hearing

    To assist USTR as it develops its negotiating objectives and 
positions for the agreement, the Trade Policy Staff Committee (TPSC) 
invites interested persons to submit comments and/or oral testimony at 
a public hearing on matters relevant to the modernization of the NAFTA. 
In particular, the TPSC invites comments addressed to:
    (a) General and product-specific negotiating objectives for Canada 
and Mexico in the context of a NAFTA modernization.
    (b) Economic costs and benefits to U.S. producers and consumers of 
removal of any remaining tariffs and removal or reduction of non-tariff 
barriers on articles traded with Canada and Mexico.
    (c) Treatment of specific goods (described by HTSUS numbers), 
including comments on--
    (1) Product-specific import or export interests or barriers,
    (2) Experience with particular measures that should be addressed in 
negotiations, and
    (3) Addressing any remaining tariffs on articles traded with 
Canada, including ways to address export priorities and import 
sensitivities related to Canada and Mexico in the context of the NAFTA.
    (d) Customs and trade facilitation issues that should be addressed 
in the negotiations.
    (e) Appropriate modifications to rules of origin or origin 
procedures for NAFTA qualifying goods.
    (f) Any unwarranted sanitary and phytosanitary measures and 
technical barriers to trade imposed by Canada and Mexico that should be 
addressed in the negotiations.
    (g) Relevant barriers to trade in services between the United 
States and Canada and Mexico that should be addressed in the 
negotiations.
    (h) Relevant digital trade issues that should be addressed in the 
negotiations.
    (i) Relevant trade-related intellectual property rights issues that 
should be addressed in the negotiations.
    (j) Relevant investment issues that should be addressed in the 
negotiations.
    (k) Relevant competition-related matters that should be addressed 
in the negotiations.

[[Page 23700]]

    (l) Relevant government procurement issues that should be addressed 
in the negotiations.
    (m) Relevant environmental issues that should be addressed in the 
negotiations.
    (n) Relevant labor issues that should be addressed in the 
negotiations.
    (o) Issues of particular relevance to small and medium-sized 
businesses that should be addressed in the negotiations.
    (p) Relevant trade remedy issues that should be addressed in the 
negotiations.
    (q) Relevant state-owned enterprise issues that should be addressed 
in the negotiations.
    USTR must receive written comments no later than Monday, June 12, 
2017.
    A hearing will be held on Tuesday, June 27, 2017 at 9:00 a.m., in 
the Main Hearing Room at the U.S. International Trade Commission, 500 E 
St. SW., Washington, DC 20436. If necessary, the hearing will continue 
on the next business day. Persons wishing to testify orally at the 
hearing must provide written notification of their intention by Monday, 
June 12, 2017. The intent to testify notification must be made in the 
``Type Comment'' field under docket number USTR-2017-0006 on the 
regulations.gov Web site and should include the name, address and 
telephone number of the person presenting the testimony. You should 
attach a summary of the testimony by using the ``Upload File'' field. 
The name of the file also should include who will be presenting the 
testimony. Remarks at the hearing should be limited to no more than 
five minutes to allow for possible questions from the TPSC.
    You should submit all documents in accordance with the instructions 
in section 3 below.

3. Requirements for Submissions

    Persons submitting a notification of intent to testify and/or 
written comments must do so in English and must identify (on the first 
page of the submission) ``NAFTA Negotiations.''
    In order to ensure the timely receipt and consideration of 
comments, USTR strongly encourages commenters to make on-line 
submissions, using the www.regulations.gov Web site. To submit comments 
via www.regulations.gov, enter docket number USTR-2017-0006 on the home 
page and click ``search.'' The site will provide a search-results page 
listing all documents associated with this docket. Find a reference to 
this notice and click on the link entitled ``Comment Now!'' (For 
further information on using the www.regulations.gov Web site, please 
consult the resources provided on the Web site by clicking on ``How to 
Use This Site'' on the left side of the home page.)
    The www.regulations.gov Web site allows users to provide comments 
by filling in a ``Type Comment'' field, or by attaching a document 
using an ``Upload File'' field. USTR prefers that comments be provided 
in an attached document. If a document is attached, it is sufficient to 
type ``See attached'' in the ``Type Comment'' field. USTR prefers 
submissions in Microsoft Word (.doc) or Adobe Acrobat (.pdf). If the 
submission is in a different application, please indicate the name of 
the application in the ``Type Comment'' field.
    For any comments submitted electronically containing business 
confidential information, the file name of the business confidential 
version should begin with the characters ``BC.'' Any page containing 
business confidential information must be clearly marked ``BUSINESS 
CONFIDENTIAL'' on the top of that page. Filers of submissions 
containing business confidential information must also submit a public 
version of their comments. The file name of the public version should 
begin with the character ``P.'' The ``BC'' and ``P'' should be followed 
by the name of the person or entity submitting the comments. Filers 
submitting comments containing no business confidential information 
should name their file using the name of the person or entity 
submitting the comments.
    Please do not attach separate cover letters to electronic 
submissions; rather, include any information that might appear in a 
cover letter in the comments themselves. Similarly, to the extent 
possible, please include any exhibits, annexes, or other attachments in 
the same file as the submission itself, not as separate files.
    As noted above, USTR strongly urges submitters to file comments 
through www.regulations.gov. Any alternative arrangements must be made 
with Yvonne Jamison in advance of transmitting the comments. You can 
contact Ms. Jamison at (202) 395-3475. General information concerning 
USTR is available at www.ustr.gov.
    Comments will be placed in the docket and open to public 
inspection, except business confidential information. Comments may be 
viewed on the www.regulations.gov Web site by entering the relevant 
docket number in the search field on the home page.

Edward Gresser,
Chair of the Trade Policy Staff Committee, Office of the United States 
Trade Representative.
[FR Doc. 2017-10603 Filed 5-22-17; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3290-F7-P