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Politics & Law Series: Expert Comment

City Law School expert comments on NAFTA

North American Free Trade Agreement is renegotiated in Washington

by City Press Office (General enquiries)

The US, Canada and Mexico are renegotiating the 23-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in Washington.

Professor David Collins, Professor of International Economic Law at City Law School (CLS) comments on the latest developments in the negotiations.

Renegotiation overdue

Professor Collins said the renegotiation of NAFTA is overdue because it is almost 25 years old. He said new material on e-commerce, data protection, and movement of professionals is needed.

Commenting specifically on the role of the Canadian government, Professor Collins said the Trudeau administration is likely to want a progressive agreement with chapters on indigenous rights, gender rights and climate change.

“I think it’s unlikely that the Trump administration will accept any of these so they may simply be declarations of Canada’s views on these matters or perhaps strategic bargaining chips to be conceded in exchange for something else.”

“The biggest obstacle is that Canada wants to keep the Chapter 19 dispute settlement panels for anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures. The US has lost some of these cases in the past and wants to eliminate Chapter 19 in favour of conventional domestic oversight.”

Investor-state dispute settlement system

Professor Collins said the investor-state dispute settlement system under NAFTA will be of particular interest.

“Canada may want to push for the new Investment Court System which appeared in the Comprehensive and Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) with Europe, but it is unlikely that the US will go for this.  It could demonstrate the potential for broader reform of investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) globally if the US does accept this system.”

Implications for UK

Professor Collins said the UK should watch the outcome of the negotiations closely because a future Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with either Canada or the US is likely to be based on the NAFTA model.

About Professor Collins

Professor and Director of the LLM Programme at CLS, David Collins teaches and researches in the field of international economic law specialisng in the law of the World Trade Organization and international investment law. Previously, David practiced commercial litigation in Toronto, Canada and was a prosecutor for the Attorney General of Ontario.  His research focus is on the interdisciplinary dimension of international economic law, incorporating perspectives from economics, business and science.

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