National Retail Federation President and CEO Matthew Shay said in an op-ed published on The Hill that the United States should work to modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement but should not withdraw from the agreement.
“While we support modernizing the agreement, we are concerned that some of the proposals the United States has or will put forward move away from the ‘do no harm’ mantra touted by the administration and supported by the business community,” Shay wrote. “A true modernization of NAFTA should push the agreement forward to address today’s environment as well as the future. Unfortunately, many key proposals seem to look backward and may end up doing more harm than good.”
Shay said threatening to withdraw from NAFTA or to include a sunset provision “should be a non-starter” and that proposals to include restrictive new rules of origin, new trade remedies or the elimination of investor protections should be rejected. An end to NAFTA would cost the United States jobs and harm the economy while resulting in higher prices for consumers and reduced availability of products ranging from apparel and electronics to fresh fruits and vegetables, he said.
The op-ed was published this morning in The Hill newspaper as officials from the United States, Canada and Mexico continued the fourth round of NAFTA renegotiations in Arlington, VA.
The NRF said retailers rely heavily on imported merchandise to provide American families with the products they need at the prices they can afford, and has fought to reduce or eliminate trade barriers. NRF supports modernization of NAFTA but is working to ensure the renegotiation does not harm the underlying agreement.