A researcher from the University of Windsor is hoping to cut through the fog of uncertainty blanketing the ongoing North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations.
Bill Anderson, director of the Cross-Border Institute, will participate in a panel discussion hosted by the Public Affairs Association of Canada in Toronto on September 25. The topic of the panel discussion is NAFTA: What Does It Mean For Canada?
“I think the biggest problem right now really is the uncertainty,” Dr. Anderson said. “If NAFTA goes, it wouldn’t mean the sky would fall, but it could cause a lot of disruption because the agreement contains a lot of the rules of trade.”
Anderson said among the rules set out in NAFTA, the ones that may have the greatest impact on Canadians are the ones under Chapter 11, Chapter 19 and the NAFTA Professional (TN) visa.
Anderson said Chapter 19 allows Canada to bypass the United States judicial review process when the U.S. government imposes antidumping or countervailing duties on Canadian products. This has been the case in the reoccurring softwood lumber dispute, where Americans perceive a violation of national sovereignty.
Anderson said Canada can use NAFTA’s Chapter 19 to create an independent panel to determine whether or not the duties have merit based on U.S. domestic laws.
“This is maybe the biggest threat to the negotiations,” Anderson said. “In the original NAFTA negotiations, Canada threatened to withdraw if they didn’t have this provision.”
Chapter 11 establishes a framework of rules that provides investors from Canada, Mexico, and the United States with a predictable investment climate.
Anderson explained that Chapter 11 allows companies to sue governments over decisions that harm their investments.
“It’s whether this sort of dispute resolution between foreign firms can prevent that country from writing legislation to favour their own firms,” Anderson explained.
Finally, an issue that would potentially impact up to 6,000 in Windsor is the TN visas.
Since the visas were issued under NAFTA, Anderson said it’s uncertain what would happen to those holding them if the agreement was scrapped.
A solution proposed by some is falling back on the Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement that proceeded NAFTA.
“People at first assumed we would just fall back on that, but now there are questions about the legality of that and point out that there was a lot wrong with that one,” Anderson said.
With a timeline of finalizing the negotiations by year-end, Anderson said the three countries still have a lot to figure out. Round 3 of the NAFTA negotiations start this weekend in Ottawa.
The panel discussion will include Anderson; Daniel Ujczo, attorney at Dickinson Wright; and Andrea Van Vugt, vice president policy North America for the Business Council of Canada.