NAFTA FREE TRADE COMMISSION JOINT STATEMENT
“Celebrating NAFTA at Ten”
The Honourable Pierre S. Pettigrew, Canada’s Minister for
International Trade; Fernando Canales, Mexico’s Secretary of Economy; and
Ambassador Robert B. Zoellick, United States Trade Representative, are
pleased to release the following Joint Statement, which outlines the overall
results of the October 7, 2003, meeting of the NAFTA Free Trade Commission,
in Montréal, Québec, Canada.
As we near the tenth anniversary of the entry into force of the North
American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), it is important to evaluate its
impact on our three countries. The evidence is clear -- the NAFTA has been a
great success for all three Parties. It is an outstanding demonstration of
the rewards that flow to outward-looking, confident countries that implement
policies of trade liberalization as a way to increase wealth, improve
competitiveness and expand benefits to consumers, workers and businesses. We
remain committed to ensuring that the NAFTA continues to help us to
strengthen the North American economy through a rules-based framework for
doing business in an increasingly integrated market.
Since January 1, 1994, when the NAFTA entered into force, three-way trade
amongst our countries has reached over US $621 billion, more than double the
pre-NAFTA level. Foreign Direct Investment by other NAFTA partners in our
three countries more than doubled to reach US$299.2 billion in 2000.
The NAFTA story is about more than impressive trade and investment figures.
January 1, 2004 will also mark ten years since the North American Agreement
on Environmental Co-operation and the North American Agreement on Labour
Co-operation entered into force. These successful agreements have helped to
ensure that the economic integration promoted by the NAFTA is accompanied by
better environmental performance and efforts to improve working conditions.
When the NAFTA Free Trade Commission last met in May 2002, we instructed our
officials to review the prospects of additional trilateral work that could
stimulate further trade between our three countries, to allow the
realization of the full potential of a more integrated and efficient North
On the basis of work achieved to date, we have today agreed on a series of
actions to further stimulate trade and investment between our three
countries, and we have directed our officials to continue to review
opportunities for further trilateral work.
We reviewed the recommendations of the Investment Experts Group (IEG), which
we had tasked with examining the operation of the investment chapter of the
NAFTA. We agreed on statements and recommended procedures regarding
submissions from non-disputing parties and a standard form for Notices of
Intent to Submit a Claim to Arbitration. These will enhance the transparency
and efficiency of the investment chapter's investor-state dispute settlement
process. Copies of these statements are attached. Much of the work that led
to the IEG’s recommendations was informed by input from interested
stakeholders, including input received at the NAFTA Trilateral
Multi-stakeholder Consultations that were held in Montreal this past May.
The Council of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation -- our
environmental counterparts -- and the Joint Public Advisory Committee (JPAC),
provided important input on the organization of these consultations. We
directed the IEG to continue its work seeking ways to improve the
implementation of the Chapter, including, where appropriate, an examination
of investment provisions in other agreements.
We were pleased to note that trade in North America for most
non-agricultural goods is no longer hindered by tariffs. However, we noted
that certain export-related transaction costs still impede possibilities for
even more vigorous growth in trilateral trade. We asked the NAFTA Trade in
Goods Committee to commence a study of our most-favoured-nation tariffs, in
order to determine whether harmonizing these tariffs could further promote
trade by reducing export-related transaction costs. We asked the NAFTA Rules
of Origin Working Group to pursue further liberalization of the NAFTA rules
of origin. We instructed officials to initiate the necessary consultations
with domestic industries to determine which products could be covered by
this exercise and to report to our Deputies at their next meeting.
Ministers discussed the impending liberalization of international textile
and apparel trade at the end of 2004 and steps that could be taken to
prepare our industries for an increasingly competitive global market.
We have accepted the recommendation of the NAFTA Temporary Entry Working
Group to provide temporary entry to actuaries and plant pathologists. We
have agreed that each Party will complete its domestic procedures to admit
professionals in these two occupations and the Parties will implement this
change trilaterally on February 1, 2004. We asked the Temporary Entry
Working Group to develop trilaterally-agreed procedures for adding and
deleting professions in Appendix 1603.D.1 (Professionals) of the NAFTA.
We were pleased to accept the Mutual Recognition Agreement that has been
signed by the accounting 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 the 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 providers.
We welcomed the establishment of a North American Steel Trade Committee,
which will meet for the first time on November 21 in Mexico City. The
objective of the Committee is to promote continued cooperation among the
three governments on international steel policy matters; to serve as a
consultative mechanism for regular exchanges of information and review of
progress on matters of mutual interest or concern; and reduce remaining
distortions in the North American steel market. We look forward to receiving
reports of the Committee’s work. We have attached a separate statement on
the establishment of this Committee.
We have accepted the recommendation of the NAFTA Advisory Committee on
Private Commercial Disputes, and we encourage the competent authorities to
adopt in each of our countries the "UNCITRAL Model Law on International
Commercial Conciliation." This will facilitate the effective resolution of
private commercial disputes by establishing a harmonized legal framework
within the NAFTA region.
Looking beyond the NAFTA region, we also discussed the essential role that
further trade and investment liberalization plays in the promotion of
economic growth and poverty reduction worldwide, and the leadership that our
three countries are showing in this regard.
Despite the setback at the WTO Ministerial Conference in Cancun, we agreed
that the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations continues to hold
tremendous prospects for the world economy; especially for developing
countries. We call on Members to re-double their efforts to build bridges
and find consensus in the months ahead. We agreed on the need to re-energize
the multilateral process and move forward with multilateral trade
liberalization that benefits all participants. We also agreed to seize all
opportunities to rebuild momentum, including at the APEC Leaders’ and Trade
Ministers’ meetings in Thailand later this month.
At the same time, we reaffirmed our commitment to the Free Trade Area of the
Americas (FTAA) process and the successful conclusion by January 2005 of
negotiations on a comprehensive, ambitious multilateral agreement including
both market access and common rules. As we approach the November 20-21, 2003
FTAA Ministerial meeting in Miami, we will continue to work with our
Hemispheric partners to achieve the promise that the FTAA holds for growth
and economic development through enhanced economic integration.
We approved the publication of a trilateral brochure on NAFTA, which can be
found at the three Ministries’ web sites.
Finally, we agreed that the United States will host the next NAFTA
Commission meeting, at the Ministerial level, next year.
Source: International Trade