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NAFTA 2.0 needs to enshrine investor protections

By Shaun Donnelly and Eva Hampl, United States Council for International Business

With the Trump administration looking to update the North American Free Trade Agreement, we in industry and other trade policy watchers were eager to see its negotiating objectives, which were released earlier this month. These objectives provide insight on which areas the president’s trade negotiators intend to focus and what the administration wants included in a final agreement.

Overall, the administration’s “NAFTA 2.0” wish-list is solid. Some commentators have noted the irony of including so many goals that were essentially attained in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an agreement President Trump withdrew from on his third day in office.

These goals include unfettered cross-border data flows, regulatory harmonization, stronger labor and environmental standards and a ban on currency manipulation. But the fact is that these objectives were worthy in and of themselves and were set in close consultation with the Congress and with industry. So why not add these to the NAFTA blueprint?

What’s more, the administration’s objectives emphasize the importance of improving access for U.S. investors in Canada and Mexico. This is critical, because foreign direct investment (FDI) is set to eclipse traditional trade flows as the digital economy continues to grow, and as we confront a world where the vast majority of consumers — including an emerging global middle class — are located outside U.S. borders.

This article can be viewed in its entirety on The Hill via the following link: