On behalf of the U.S. standardization community, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has submitted a response to an Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) Federal Register Notice, with a statement of intent to testify at the June 27, 2017, hearing at the U.S. International Trade Commission, on negotiating objectives regarding the modernization of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico.
Mary Saunders, ANSI's vice president, government relations and public policy, will testify on ANSI's role in the U.S. standardization system and why it is fundamentally built on the needs of the marketplace. ANSI recently solicited feedback from its members and the greater standardization community to respond to a May 23 Federal Register Notice, which requested input from relevant state, local, and non-governmental stakeholders.
ANSI submitted comments addressing the following key topics:
-ANSI's role in facilitating U.S. companies' competitiveness and their access to foreign markets
-Issues related to technical barriers to trade
-The role of market-driven standardization activities in enhancing trade and competitiveness
-Priorities for the modernization of NAFTA and examples from previous texts
ANSI's consensus response addresses the USTR- issued notice, which provides details about the United States 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. 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. [See the full NAFTA text].
As stated in ANSI's official response, the Institute supports the "multiple-path approach" the view that the degree to which a standard is used in the global marketplace is the best measure of an international standard. This supports the approach in which users decide which standards best meet their needs, and determine with which standards development venues they wish to work. ANSI and the standardization community emphasize that the multiple-path approach is more effective than when regulators mandate the use of a standard developed by a particular bodyinstead of selecting the best standard.
ANSI's response also emphasizes that a modernized NAFTA should include TBT provisions that are "at least as strong" as those contained in more recent Free Trade Agreements negotiated by the United States.
ANSI supports modernizing NAFTA by addressing outdated standardization policiesand action that will ensure greater flexibility and choice in standards and conformity assessment solutions. And to that end, ANSI strongly recommends negotiators look to the agreed text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership for appropriate language, specifically Chapter 8 on Technical Barriers to Trade.
Read ANSI's Response to Request for Comments: Modernization of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). See the related article, ANSI Seeks Comments on USTR Request Regarding the Modernization of North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico.