…It is fitting that we have been negotiating here in Ottawa – a city known for its rich history in trade. Canada is celebrating 150 years in 2017, but for thousands of years the Ottawa River Valley has been a center of trade, and the present capital city is now also a center for trade policy. So it’s a special honor to be here in Ottawa.
Here at the close of round three of these negotiations, I join Minister Freeland and Secretary Guajardo in welcoming the progress that was made to this point.
I also join them in thanking the six or seven hundred people from our three governments who have been working of this issue. And I think it’s important for everyone to realize just how big this is. This is hundreds and hundreds of pages of very technical, technical work that covers really almost the entire of all of our economies, in one way or another. And there’s six or seven hundred people working weekends and very long hours to get to where we are, and they are dedicated to continuing until we get to the end of the process.
I also echo my counterparts’ remarks on closing the chapter on Small- and Medium- sized Enterprises. These businesses are the engines that drive each of our economies. They represent great ingenuity and hard work, turning businesses into dreams and into reality. They employ millions of our citizens. And, when they look to trade internationally, they first look to trading in North America.
So it’s very, very important that we completed this chapter.
Additionally, significant progress continues to be made in numerous other areas, including competition policy, digital trade, State Owned Enterprises, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, customs, and telecommunications. But of course, there is an enormous amount of work to be done, including on some very difficult and contentious issues.
We continue to push for ways that will reduce the U.S. trade deficit. We are committed to a substantial renegotiation that reinvigorates U.S. industry and ensures reciprocal market access for American farmers, ranchers, and businesses.
The negotiations are continuing at an unprecedented pace, and the United States looks forward to hosting the next round in Washington, DC in about two weeks.
Minister Freeland, Secretary Guajardo – thank you both for your continued engagement in the NAFTA renegotiation process. I am hoping that our countries are capable of producing a new NAFTA that will fuel economic growth for all of us in North America in the years to come.
Ottawa, Canada – Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, Mexican Secretary of the Economy Ildefonso Guajardo, and United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer today successfully concluded the third round of the renegotiation and modernization of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The round took place in Ottawa, Canada from September 23 to 27, 2017. Negotiators made significant progress in several areas through the consolidation of text proposals, narrowing gaps and agreeing to elements of the negotiating text. Negotiators are now working from consolidated texts in most areas, demonstrating a commitment from all parties to advance discussions in the near term. In particular, meaningful advancements were made in the areas of telecommunications, competition policy, digital trade, good regulatory practices, and customs and trade facilitation. Parties also exchanged initial offers in the area of market access for government procurement.
Importantly, discussions were substantively completed in the area of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), effectively concluding negotiations on that chapter pending specific outcomes in related discussions. The inclusion of a chapter on SMEs in a modernized NAFTA recognizes the contribution that SMEs make to our economies. The chapter will serve to support the growth and development of SMEs by enhancing their ability to participate in and benefit from the opportunities created by this Agreement, including through cooperative activities, information sharing, and the establishment of a NAFTA Trilateral SME Dialogue, involving the private sector, non-government organizations, and other stakeholders. In addition to a specific chapter on SMEs, negotiators are also working on modernizing other aspects of the agreement that would benefit SMEs, including customs and trade facilitation, digital trade, and good regulatory practices. Discussions also touched upon energy trade, gender and Indigenous peoples.
We also advanced substantively in the competition chapter and expect to conclude the negotiation on this chapter prior to the next round.
NAFTA partners continue to be guided by a shared desire to create jobs, economic growth and opportunity for the people of our countries. Canada, the United States and Mexico remain committed to an accelerated timeline for negotiations. Ministers from all three countries have reiterated the mandate to the Chief Negotiators to continue on an accelerated path. Negotiators will continue their work and consult with their respective stakeholders in preparation for the fourth round of talks in Washington, D.C., from October 11 to 15, 2017.