USTR Lighthizer

Today, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer formally notified Congress of its intent to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), via a letter to Congressional leadership. The letter is less detailed than last March’s draft notification, and unlike the March draft, it includes no specific negotiating objectives.  Rather, the letter that was sent today notes “our aim is that NAFTA be modernized to include new provisions to address intellectual property rights, regulatory practices, state-owned enterprises, services, customs, procedures, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, labor, environment, and small and medium enterprises.” The letter also says that the Administration will develop negotiating positions that are consistent with the objectives found in Section 102 of the Trade Priorities and Accountability Act.  

The administration wants to begin negotiations as soon as possible, but under the law must consult with Congress for a 90 day period, which begins now.

Click here for the full text of the notification letter.

See also: Inside U.S. Trade. “USTR notifies Congress of its intent to renegotiate NAFTA; U.S. hopes for a trilateral deal.” Link.

The negotiating objectives pertaining to intellectual property rights found in Sec. 102(b)(5) of the Trade Priorities and Accountability Act are pasted below:

—The   principal   negotiating objectives of the United States regarding trade-related intellectual property are—

(A)  to  further  promote  adequate  and  effective  protection  of  intellectual  property  rights,  including  through—

(i)(I) ensuring accelerated and full implementation of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual  Property  Rights  referred  to  in  section  101(d)(15)  of  the  Uruguay  Round  Agreements  Act  (19  U.S.C. 3511(d)(15)),   particularly   with   respect   to   meeting enforcement obligations under that agreement; and
(II) ensuring that the provisions of any trade agreement  governing  intellectual  property  rights  that  is entered  into  by  the  United  States  reflect  a  standard of  protection  similar  to  that  found  in  United  States  law;
(ii)   providing   strong   protection for new and  emerging  technologies  and  new  methods  of  transmitting  and  distributing  products  embodying  intellectual
property,  including  in  a  manner  that  facilitates  legitimate digital trade;
(iii)  preventing  or  eliminating  discrimination  with respect  to  matters  affecting  the  availability,  acquisition,   scope,   maintenance,   use,   and   enforcement   of   intellectual property rights;
(iv)   ensuring   that   standards of protection and enforcement   keep   pace   with   technological   developments,  and  in  particular ensuring  that rightholders  have  the  legal  and  technological  means to  control  the
use  of  their  works  through  the  Internet  and  other global   communication   media,   and   to   prevent   the  unauthorized use of their works;
(v)  providing  strong  enforcement  of  intellectual property  rights,  including  through  accessible,  expeditious,  and  effective  civil,  administrative,  and  criminal enforcement mechanisms; and
(vi) preventing or eliminating government involvement  in  the  violation  of  intellectual  property  rights, including cyber theft and piracy;

(B)  to  secure  fair,  equitable,  and  nondiscriminatory market access opportunities for United States persons that rely upon intellectual property protection; and

(C) to respect the Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and  Public  Health,  adopted  by  the  World  Trade  Organization  at  the  Fourth  Ministerial  Conference  at  Doha,  Qatar  on November 14, 2001, and to ensure that trade agreements foster innovation and promote access to medicines.