North America Free Trade Agreement countries flag patch on white background.

On June 29, 2016, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, U.S. President Obama and Mexican President Peña Nieto met in Ottawa, Canada for the North American Leaders’ Summit.  Many press releases were issued – but most of the outside press related to the North American Climate, Clean Energy and Environment Partnership.  The Action Plan is yet to be released – so, we will wait to blog about this initiative.

There were many other initiatives that did not get as much media attention.

The following are 12 action items that Canadian businesses should watch in the coming months and years:

1. TPP: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, U.S. President Obama and Mexican President Peña Nieto issued a Joint Statement on “Economic Prosperity – Trade and Competitiveness” in which they indicated that the three leaders agreed to “work diligently to complete … respective domestic processes” to ratify the TPP.

2. Competitiveness Work Plan: In the Joint Statement on “Economic Prosperity – Trade and Competitiveness”, the three leaders indicated that they had launched the 2016 North American Competitiveness Work Plan.  It is a blueprint for action that will “facilitate partnerships through fourteen new initiatives that will reduce costs for business, improve supply chain efficiency, advance innovation and economic development, and engage stakeholders through consultation and outreach.” However, on May 2, 2016, International Trade Minister Freeland and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, and Mexico’s Secretary of Economy, Ildefonso Guajardo met in Washington, D.C., and endorsed the 2016 NACW.  According to the May 2, 2016 announcement, the 2016 Work Plan includes 14 trilateral initiatives under three pillars:

Supply Chain Efficiency

  • Trilateral Trusted Traveler Agreement
  • North American Measure of Trade in Value Added (TiVA)
  • Cooperation on Standards
  • Single Window Border Facilitation
  • North American Clean Energy Partnership Initiative

Innovation & Economic Development

  • North American Patent Prosecution Highway Collaboration
  • North American Cluster Asset Mapping
  • America’s Competitiveness Exchange on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (ACE)
  • Women Entrepreneurship
  • Connecting Local Governments
  • Internationalizing SMEs

Stakeholder Consultation & Outreach

  • Public-Private Dialogue on North America
  • Communications Collaboration
  • Cybersecurity Collaboration with the Commercial Sector

3. Online Customs Portal Coordination:  In the Joint Statement on Border Facilitation, the three leaders announced that Canada, the United States and Mexico have committed to align single window online customs processes for submitting information to customs authorities and requirements (to the greatest extent possible).  Making the forms easier will facilitate trade, especially for SMEs.

4. NEXUS: In 2016, Canadian and American citizens who are members of the NEXUS program will be eligible to apply to the Mexican Viajero Confiable Program, providing them with expedited immigration screening upon arrival at select international airports in Mexico.  This will be great for Canadian snowbirds who travel to Mexico.  The arrangement will also allow Mexican citizens to apply for NEXUS Membership.

5. Border Security: In the Joint Statement on Security and Defence, Canada, the United States and Mexico committed to undertake “a more integrated and coordinated approach to pre-screening of high risk cargo into, and within, North America.  In 2016, Canada will embed personnel into a United States customs centre – in which Mexican customs personnel are also currently embedded – on a pilot basis to establish a foundation for joint contraband threat identification and examination activities.

6. Mutual-Recognition: Hidden at the end of the Joint Statement on “Strengthening Cultural and Social Ties Between Canada and Mexico“, there is an important statement about working on mutual recognition on health-related products. The Statements indicates:

“Health Canada and the Mexican health authority Comisión Federal para la Protección contra Riesgos Sanitarios (COFEPRIS) are establishing a framework for cooperation and exchange of information in the field of therapeutic products, including pharmaceuticals, biological products, medical devices, natural health products, cosmetics, controlled substances as well as in the field of environmental health. This framework will help strengthen the communication between the regulatory authorities with the aim to assist in protecting and enhancing public health and the safety of their respective populations.”

7. Alignment of Appliance and Equipment Efficiency Standards:  In the environmental package, the leaders agreed to “better align and further improve appliance and equipment efficiency standards.” The Leaders committed to align six energy efficiency standards or test procedures for equipment by the end of 2017, and a total of ten standards or test procedures by the end of 2019.

8. Science-Based Decisions:  Canada and Mexico shared a commitment to resolve trade disputes using “science-based decision making”.  Mexico is in the final stages of its process to resume beef imports from Canada. Hopefully this principle extends beyond beef.

9.Enhance Resilience: In the Joint Statement on Security and Defence, Canada, the United States and Mexico will share and develop improved risk reduction standards, codes, regulations, and tools to enhance resilience.  What this means is that we will work together on border security measures to ensure that trade continues to flow in the worst of times.

10. Open Data Charter: The three leaders issued a press release entitled “Regional and Global Issues” and announced on the last page acommitment to “collaborate to promote the principles reflected in the International Data Charter, that data be open by default, timely and comprehensive, accessible and useable, and comparable and interoperable.”

11. Cluster Mapping: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, U.S. President Obama and Mexican President Peña Nieto issued a Joint Statement on “Economic Prosperity – Trade and Competitiveness” and announced they agreed to promote cluster mapping.  These maps “identify clusters of interconnected companies, suppliers, and institutions, helping businesses to expand their labor and supply chains while supporting efforts by local governments and economic development agencies to build and attract new industries.”  The Federal Government committed funds to the National Cluster Mapping Portal in the 2016 Federal Budget.  The U.S. has a cluster mapping website.

12. Softwood Lumber:  Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Obama issued a Joint Statement on “Softwood Lumber” and informed that Canada and the United States are negotiating a new Softwood Lumber Agreement.  What is important to watch is the degree to which Canada is asked to commit to a specific market share and whether Canada and provincial governments will be obligated to change regional policies.  This is a slippery slope because such actions are not required by NAFTA or the WTO Agreements.  In fact, NAFTA Chapter 3 (Article 309) prohibits import and export restrictions.

For more information, please contact Cyndee Todgham Cherniak at 416-307-4168 or at Alternatively, visit