Public Knowledge Responds to Trump Administration’s NAFTA Negotiation Objectives

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Recently, the United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer published a summary of the Trump Administration’s objectives for renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Public Knowledge finds that these objectives will harm American consumers and innovators, as well as potentially limit fair use protections. Public Knowledge has also filed NAFTA comments on renegotiating the trade deal.

The following can be attributed to Gus Rossi, Global Policy Director at Public Knowledge:

“We are disappointed by NAFTA's summary of objectives, recently released by the United States Trade Representative (USTR). They are vague and one-sided. On copyright and intellectual property, USTR goals are unbalanced, reflecting the preferences of industry stakeholders, such as the Motion Picture Association of America, and without one single mention of limitations or exceptions to copyright such as fair use, which enables consumers to make certain uses of copyrighted material in situations such as commentary, criticism, news reporting, research, teaching or scholarship. This is a very worrisome development. Fair use industries employ one in eight American workers.

“We are also worried that the USTR does not reference the importance of an open internet in its goals. An open internet is a necessary component for a digital trade strategy that strengthens protection for consumers while at the same time encouraging commerce.

“Finally, we think that the vagueness of the USTR’s summary of objectives for NAFTA, together with the lack of a plan of action for making the negotiating process more transparent, prevents meaningful stakeholder input critical to the legitimacy of any trade agreement. The list of goals USTR presented is so vague that the Trump Administration could virtually pursue any policy objective and its opposite -- simultaneously.

“Unless the transparency of the negotiation process is radically transformed, consumers will only know what a renegotiated NAFTA will look like once it has been fully negotiated and Congress is presented with a take-it-or-leave-it option. That is not what democracy should look like.”

You may view the announcement here as well as our NAFTA comments filed with the USTR.

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