Thursday, September 23, 2021

US eyes NAFTA change that could allow reinstatement of tariffs

New York, Mar 30 (eEFE).- The United States’ government is eyeing a change to the North American Free Trade Agreement that would allow its members to reinstate tariffs in exceptional cases, media reports said Thursday.

The proposed change is contained in a draft proposal by the US trade representative’s office that is circulating in Congress as part of a series of preliminary steps that are required before NAFTA’s terms can be renegotiated, according to The Wall Street Journal, which obtained access to the draft.

A United States Customs and Border Protection officer checks a driver’s papers at the San Ysidro Port of Entry border crossing in San Diego, California, USA, 10 February US Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly on the day made a visit to the border crossing. The port of entry receives vehicles and pedestrians entering the United States from Tijuana, Mexico. (Estados Unidos) EFE/EPA/DAVID MAUNG

It calls for allowing any of NAFTA’s three member countries – the US, Canada or Mexico – to reinstate tariffs if its domestic industries were to be seriously threatened by a flood of imports.

But other changes are minor, according to the Journal, and do no address matters such as rules of origin that trade hawks say are crucial to narrowing the US trade deficit.

The draft says those rules could be set to ensure larger percentages of products are produced in NAFTA countries, thus providing support for manufacturing jobs in the US, but the document is short on details, the Journal says.

The draft also talks about improving procedures for resolving disputes.

But it does not mention eliminating controversial arbitration panels that NAFTA critics say infringe upon national sovereignty by allowing investors to circumvent local courts to resolve civil claims, according to the business daily.

US President Donald Trump has harshly criticized NAFTA, which was signed by the US, Mexico and Canada in 1992 and took effect in 1994, saying it has destroyed American manufacturing jobs and led to trade deficits with Mexico that total $60 billion annually.