Joint Statement of NAFTA Governments -
On the Establishment, Operation and Initial Agenda of a North American Steel
October 7, 2003
To demonstrate their shared commitment to address market distortions in the
steel sector, and to further the integration of their steel industries in
the context of greater North American economic integration, the NAFTA
governments pledged in a December 2002 joint statement to identify areas in
which they might work together to promote more openness in the North
American steel market and cooperation on steel trade and industry policies.
As a forum to facilitate this work, the NAFTA governments agreed to
establish a North American Steel Trade Committee (NASTC). The inaugural
meeting of the NASTC is currently scheduled to take place on November 21,
2003, in Mexico City.
The NASTC will have several broadly articulated purposes: (i) to promote
continued cooperation among the three governments on steel policy matters,
including in the OECD High Level Steel Initiative and in other multilateral
fora; (ii) to serve as a consultative mechanism for regular exchanges of
information and views, development of complementary approaches to common
problems, and review of progress on matters of mutual interest or concern;
and (iii) to seek the reduction and elimination, as appropriate and
consistent with the rights and obligations of the NAFTA and the WTO, of
remaining distortions in the North American steel market, taking account of
progress made by other countries in addressing their own market-distorting
measures and practices.
The NASTC will provide a venue for:
Obtaining input from and enhancing
interaction with the steel industries of North America in order to gain
a better appreciation of their interests and concerns;
Seeking common or better coordinated
approaches and responses, where appropriate, to emerging problems and
issues, including in the context of multilateral and regional
discussions on steel trade issues;
Exchanging information on the North
American steel market and trade, to maintain a sound understanding of
the nature of steel trade within North America and between North America
and other regions;
Identifying problems in North American
steel trade or markets which could adversely affect intra-NAFTA steel
trade or market conditions, with a view toward reaching mutually
beneficial solutions consistent with the NAFTA governments’ domestic
laws and international obligations.
Consulting on governmental policies and
activities in the steel sector that may have an impact on trade in
steel, with a view towards modifying, reducing or eliminating remaining
barriers and distortions in the North American steel market where such
actions are feasible and appropriate.
Considering ways to develop or promote
joint, affirmative policies which would facilitate the adjustment and
promote the health of the steel sector in North America within the
context of and consistent with broader government policies in favor of
North American economic growth and integration.
Establishment and Operation
The NASTC will operate primarily as an intergovernmental body, with the
level and composition of delegations to be determined according to the
issues to be discussed. Its work and activities will be reported to senior
NAFTA government officials, and authority to take any official actions will
derive from decisions of the NAFTA governments.
In the context of its meetings, the NASTC will permit and facilitate direct
interaction and exchange of information with representatives of North
American steel producers and industry associations.
Regular meetings will typically be scheduled semi-annually, upon agreement
of the parties, with the possibility left open for ad hoc meetings in order
to address particular issues should the need arise. Hosting responsibility
will rotate on a semi-annual basis and the host government will be
responsible for chairing the meeting, circulating a proposed agenda in
advance of the meeting, and performing other ministerial functions necessary
to the smooth operation of the Committee.
In general, responsibility for leading discussion of specific agenda items
and, where appropriate, the drafting and circulation of discussion papers
will rest with the government that places the item on the agenda. In cases
where the item is a regular element of the Committee’s discussions, such
responsibility will be decided by consensus of the parties at the suggestion
of the Chair of the Committee.
Apart from the obligation to report to senior NAFTA government officials on
its work, as well as other operational considerations aimed at facilitating
oversight and transparency, the activities of the Committee will be kept as
informal as possible in order to promote the efficiency of its work.
Periodically, the Committee will consider whether it wishes to issue public
statements or reports either in conjunction with or independent of the
Proposed Initial Agenda Items
Review current multilateral and regional
discussions on and developments affecting steel trade issues, including
the OECD High Level Steel Initiative, and explore potential areas of
cooperation for a successful and mutually beneficial outcome.
Take stock of emerging problems, trade
trends and areas of concern regarding global steel trade, including
problems facing NAFTA countries as a result of actions or developments in
other regions of the world. Discuss appropriate approaches and responses
to such issues, whether of a unilateral, coordinated or collective nature.
Explore a feasible mechanism for the
exchange of information on the North American steel market and trade,
consistent with antitrust considerations.
Identify potential or emerging problems in
North American steel trade or markets which could adversely affect
intra-NAFTA steel trade or market conditions, with a view towards
clarifying the issues and exchanging ideas on reaching mutually beneficial
solutions consistent with the NAFTA governments’ domestic laws and
Source: International Trade