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Today wraps up three days of hearings hosted by USTR regarding the renegotiation of NAFTA.  The hearings come about six weeks before the United States will begin discussions with Canada and Mexico, no earlier than August 16.

Over the course of 3 days, USTR officials heard from a number of U.S. industries regarding their interests and goals for an overhauled NAFTA.  These industries included steel and metal, auto, apparel, agriculture, and farming, among others.  Representatives from the entertainment industry, as well as the NFL, also presented their views on how a renegotiated agreement should benefit their industries.  USTR heard from over 100 witnesses who expressed a variety of views regarding the effectiveness of NAFTA in its current form and provided opinions on how to improve the agreement. 
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NAFTA renegotiations are up at bat this summer.  In May, the Trump administration sent a letter to Congress that began a 90-day consultation period between Congress, the administration, and business stakeholders to discuss the United States’ priorities.  The 90-day period is set to expire on August 16th, at which point the United States may restart discussions with Canada and Mexico. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has indicated that Congress will receive a detailed proposal in July that provides specifics on how to re-work the 1994 free trade agreement with Canada and Mexico.

Renegotiating NAFTA has been a major issue at the center of the administration’s trade policy.  USTR Lighthizer stated that the goal of renegotiation is to create an agreement that advances the interests of America’s workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses.  Last week, USTR received over 1,300 comments from stakeholders following its request for input on how to “modernize” NAFTA.  Next week, USTR will hold a public hearing during which stakeholders can present their views for consideration by the administration. 
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Commissioner F. Scott Kieff has announced that he will leave the ITC at the end of this month to return to his positions at the George Washington University School of Law and Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.  Commissioner Kieff’s last day at the ITC will be June 30, 2017.  Kieff has served as an ITC Commissioner

On June 2nd, the International Trade Commission (“ITC”) voted to continue the antidumping and countervailing duty investigations on cold-drawn mechanical tubing from China, Germany, India, Italy, Korea, and Switzerland.  The ITC’s preliminary vote finding a reasonable indication that the domestic industry is material injured by reason of imports from the six countries was unanimous.  As a result of the affirmative preliminary injury finding, the Commerce Department will continue its respective investigations to determine whether cold-drawn mechanical tubing from each of the six countries is being unfairly subsidized and/or sold at less than fair value.  The petitions for trade relief, filed on April 19th, allege margins of dumping that range from the double digits to the triple digits for certain countries, including China, Germany, and Switzerland.  The countervailing duty petitions for China and India identify numerous subsidy programs including, for example, export loans, credit and insurance at preferential rates, preferential tax treatment, and government grants.  The ITC and Commerce Department are expected to issue their final determinations by or before early next year. 
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The Commerce Department has signaled that it will issue findings in its respective “Section 232” investigations covering imports of steel and aluminum before the end of June.  Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 (19 U.S.C. § 1862) grants the U.S. Department of Commerce the authority to conduct an investigation to determine whether imports of particular merchandise threaten the national security.  The Commerce Department then issues its findings, along with a recommendation for action, to the President.  A conclusion that imports of steel or aluminum threaten the national security allows the President to decide whether to adjust or modify the volumes or prices of imports of foreign-made steel or aluminum into the United States. 
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