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Joint Statement on 2007 NAFTA Commission Meeting

August 14, 2007



2007 NAFTA Commission Meeting

Vancouver, Canada – August 14,

Joint Statement

The Honourable David Emerson, Canada’s Minister of International Trade; Eduardo
Sojo, Mexico’s Secretary of
Economy; and Ambassador Susan C. Schwab, United States Trade Representative, are
pleased to release the following Joint Statement, which outlines the overall
results of the August 14th, 2007, meeting of the NAFTA Free Trade Commission
(FTC), in Vancouver,
Canada. The three
Ministers noted that the work accomplished at this meeting would help lay the
foundation for the upcoming North American Leaders Summit in Montebello from August
20-21, 2007.

The NAFTA – now in its 14th year – has been a remarkable
success story for all three partners. It has contributed to significant
increases in trade and investment flows between Canada, the United
States and Mexico, and has contributed to economic growth
and job creation throughout  North

A strong, modern and flexible NAFTA is essential for the
continent to maintain its competitive edge in an increasingly complex,
fast-paced and connected global marketplace.

As the NAFTA concludes the complete elimination of duties
within North America, we must look for new and
creative ways of further promoting trade and new business opportunities. We must
build upon our initial success, and continue to strengthen our regional
competitiveness with a view not only of intra-NAFTA trade, but considering other
regions as potential destinations for our exports and an important source of

In keeping with our collective commitment to increasing
market efficiencies, economic growth, prosperity and innovation in all three
countries for the benefit of our citizens, we engaged in a constructive
discussion of what we can do to achieve these goals. Thus, we have agreed

develop a work plan to respond to the ever increasing pressures on North
American competitiveness.  The plan – which will address the key issues
that impact our trade and identify the most effective means to facilitate it –
will be presented for review at our next meeting so we can develop a strong and
competitive North American platform that increases the welfare and the
prosperity of all our citizens;

facilitate trade in specific sectors in order to foster stronger more
competitive North American value chains. To this end, we have instructed
officials to move ahead on the following sectors: swine, steel, consumer
electronics, and chemicals. We also tasked our officials to identify a second
set of sectors. We look forward to receiving progress reports on the first set
of sectors, as well as reviewing work plans for the second set of sectors, at
our next FTC meeting; and

conduct an analysis of the free trade agreements that each country has
negotiated subsequent to the NAFTA, beginning with those in the western
hemisphere. This work will focus on identifying specific, meaningful differences
between agreements, especially those related to trade facilitation and

In 2006, we also instructed our officials to review the
mandates of the NAFTA working groups and committees. Armed with this analysis,
the working groups must identify potential improvements and ensure that the
NAFTA work programs reflect current realities and challenges, including work
that is taking place in parallel initiatives. We have directed officials to
examine how this work can be used to support the new sectoral initiatives and
other initiatives discussed today, including the review of FTAs.

We also reaffirmed our commitment to cooperate in other
regional and global fora:

          - We
are committed to multilateral trade liberalization and to successfully
concluding the WTO Doha Round of negotiations.  We urge all WTO Members to
demonstrate renewed energy and flexibility in the negotiations based on the
Chairs’ texts in agriculture and non-agricultural market access, and put the
Doha Development Agenda on a path toward a balanced and ambitious overall
outcome that results in meaningful improvements in global trading

          - At
the same time, we reaffirm our commitments undertaken at our last meeting of
APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade, held in July 2007 in Cairns, Australia.  To this end, we
reiterated our commitment to examine the prospect of a Free Trade Area of the
Asia-Pacific (FTAAP).

We are also pleased with significant progress on rules of
origin. In 2003, the NAFTA Working Group on Rules of Origin set out to
liberalize the requirements for obtaining NAFTA duty-free

The first set of changes – affecting approximately US 20 billion in annual
trilateral trade – was implemented in 2005.

          - A
second set of changes – affecting an estimated US 15 billion in
trilateral trade – was implemented in 2006.

          - We
have now agreed to a third set of changes – affecting an estimated US 100
billion in trilateral trade. These changes will be implemented in

These efforts confirm NAFTA’s ability to adapt to
ever-changing competitive conditions including new sourcing patterns and
production methods. In this context, we asked the Working Group on Rules of
Origin to continue its work to pursue further liberalization

We also commend our officials for having completed the
technical rectifications to align the NAFTA rules of origin with the Parties’
updated tariff schedules resulting from the World Customs Organization’s
amendments to the nomenclature of the Harmonized Commodity  Description and
Coding System that came into force on January 1, 2007. We are pleased to note
that the NAFTA Working Group on Rules of Origin will soon consult with officials
from Chile to share experiences with
issues of common interest.

We recognize the concept of cumulation of origin as an
important mechanism for creating new business opportunities by strengthening the
competitiveness of North American products globally.  The Commission
intends to instruct the Working Group on Rules of Origin to study further
appropriate opportunities for cumulation.

We take note of the agreement reached by the Chapter 19
Operation Working Group on proposed amendments to the NAFTA Chapter 19 Rules of
Procedure. We commend the Working Group for its efforts to improve the
functioning of Chapter 19 panels. We refer the proposals developed by the
Working Group to the State Parties to complete any internal review procedures,
with a view to having the Commission adopt an agreed package of amendments to
the Rules of Procedure by November 15, 2007.

We are pleased to accept the Mutual Recognition Agreement
that has been signed by the architecture professions of Canada, Mexico and the United States.
We hereby encourage our respective competent authorities to implement it in a
manner consistent with the NAFTA. This agreement will facilitate the recognition
of credentials within the three NAFTA countries. By facilitating the
cross-border trade in services, this type of agreement contributes to achieving
the objectives of NAFTA, and we encourage other bodies of professionals to
complete the agreements that are being negotiated to develop mutually acceptable
standards and criteria for licensing and certification of professional service

We agreed that regional cooperation has provided
significant benefits for economic growth and job-creation in each of our
countries.  We further agreed to pursue opportunities, wherever practical,
to promote further cooperation for the benefit of our producers and consumers.
Finally, we agreed that the United States will host the next
NAFTA Commission meeting, at the Ministerial level, in 2008.




The global business and trade environment is becoming
increasingly complex and competitive, fuelled by rapidly changing patterns of
global value chains, the rise of new economic powers, the intense pursuit of
bilateral liberalization agendas and new security dynamics.

For Canada, the United
States and Mexico, the North American Free Trade
Agreement (NAFTA) is an important component of our economic success and
prosperity. As such, it provides the primary platform for our countries to
compete in the global context.

To stay competitive, our three countries must continue
working together to build on NAFTA’s success by harnessing the region’s
strengths, bringing down any remaining trade barriers and ensuring that our
business sectors have the freedom, tools and market access they need to compete,
in a co-ordinated fashion, in the global context.

At the March 2006 NAFTA Commission meeting, Ministers
committed to continue building a more competitive North American business
platform that will ease the flow of goods, services, and capital between the
three NAFTA countries in key sectors.

Today, NAFTA Ministers approved focused sectoral work in
four sectors: swine/hogs, steel, consumer electronics, and


Despite the high degree of co-operation and cross-border
trade in this sector, some market access issues remain among the three NAFTA
countries, which can increase costs for producers and consumers alike. These
include potential border delays, regulatory differences and competitive
pressures from emerging players in the North American market.

To help North America’s
swine sector compete more effectively, NAFTA Ministers agreed to work
co-operatively to lower barriers to trade in swine. This includes developing
coordinated approaches to standards, regulations and performance objectives,
preventing border delays and sharing research. Ministers also agreed to explore
the possibility of developing protocols to ensure a predictable, co-ordinated
response within North America in the event of
an outbreak of swine-related diseases.


The North American steel market is highly integrated, and
the industry in all three NAFTA countries share common interests and

Through the work of the North American Steel Trade
Committee, NAFTA partners are undertaking a comprehensive analysis of trade
barriers in this industry. Once the analysis is complete, partners will make
recommendations -- including in the areas of country-of-origin and permit
requirements -- that will make North America’s
steel industry more competitive.



Rapid and dramatic technological advances over the years
have created a huge global market for consumer electronics. These advances have
also led to increased, low-cost competition and a shortened product lifespan
that finds older products ending up in landfills more rapidly.

NAFTA Ministers agreed to work together to lower trade
barriers to ensure that this industry has the tools and market access it needs
to succeed in all three countries. Ministers also agreed to work with the
trilateral Commission of Environmental Co-operation to explore ways to address
the environmental impacts of the lifespan and disposal of consumer


The chemicals industry is a large and important industry
to all three NAFTA partners, providing jobs, consumer products and inputs for a
wide range of sectors, including the medical, automotive, textile, electronics,
construction and food industries. NAFTA Ministers have agreed to review
recommendations provided to the three governments to facilitate trade in this
sector – including customs and rules-of-origin requirements and how to make this
industry more competitive and cost-effective in the global

To promote safety and environmentally friendly standards,
Ministers also agreed to explore work that will assist current efforts towards
common standards and requirements for the labelling and transportation of
hazardous chemicals.