The future of NAFTA and why it matters

President Donald Trump recently signed an executive order stating his intention to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the United States, Canada and Mexico.


Buffalo Niagara’s strategic position along the Canadian border makes it an area sure to be impacted by any changes to NAFTA. So what will that mean for our business community?

A recent webinar hosted by The Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition – of which the Buffalo Niagara Partnership is a member – offered some answers.

Understanding NAFTA
NAFTA was negotiated 25 years ago and, at the time, was the most comprehensive free trade agreement ever created.

  • It eliminated most tariffs and non-tariff barriers on goods produced and traded within North America.
  • Since its inception, US trade has more than tripled with Canada and Mexico.
  • Canada is the United States’ largest export market, with Mexico second.
  • Canada is the number one export customer for 35 states, including New York.

The webinar reviewed the trade agreement and offered some suggestions on what might become of NAFTA in the coming months. Featured were a number of issues our region needs to keep an eye on including:


Rules of origin.  It has been suggested these rules need to tighten, which means raising the North American content requirement to qualify for duty free treatment when sold between NAFTA partners. This could have a negative impact on companies with integrated supply chains.

Buy American
.  President Trump has suggested eliminating the waiver for Buy American for Canada and Mexico.  If so, retaliatory elimination of similar regulations in Canada and Mexico may occur, threatening cross-border procurement practices.

There are also a few renegotiation targets that could help border trade including:

  • Regulatory cooperation – to improve transparency and regulatory compatibility
  • Customs – to simplify and harmonize paperwork and processesnafta_logo
  • Border infrastructure – to improve infrastructure to facilitate cross-border trade.

While the renegotiation of NAFTA has not yet begun, we must state the importance of the agreement to our elected officials at the federal level.

Your voice matters, as it is likely the Administration will use comments by business to help structure the new agreement.

Want to get involved in our federal advocacy? Contact Catherine Muth to learn how.

Watch the Coalition webinar here (You will have to download the Webex Extension in order to play webinar).

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