NAFTA Highlights for the ICT Industry

On Monday July 17th, the U.S. Trade Representative released a summary of American objectives for the renegotiation of NAFTA, which is scheduled to begin in August.

The U.S. document touches loosely on several key issues for Canada’s ICT industry. Highlights are detailed below.  While many of the U.S. priorities appear to align with ITAC’s NAFTA recommendations, there are also several areas that require further clarity.

For reference we have attached ITAC’s final submission to Canada’s NAFTA negotiating team.

U.S. NAFTA Renegotiation Priorities: Highlights for the ICT Industry

Digital Trade in Goods and Services and Cross-Border Data Flows:

  • Secure commitments to not impose customs duties on digital products or discriminate against digital products transmitted electronically based on the territory they are produced.
  • Implement rules to protect cross-border data flows, and prohibit data localization requirements.
  • Prevent governments from mandating the disclosure of computer source code.


  • Promote a competitive supply of telecommunications services by facilitating market entry through transparent regulation and an independent regulator.
  • Secure commitments to provide reasonable network access for telecommunications suppliers through interconnection and access to physical facilities and scarce resources.
  • Establish provisions protecting telecommunications services suppliers’ choice of technology.

eCommerce: Provide for a de minimis shipment value comparable to the U.S. value of $800, and expedite customs treatment for express delivery shipments below de minimis (Canada’s de minimis threshold is currently $20).

Intellectual Property:

  • Provide strong protection and enforcement for new and emerging technologies and new methods of transmitting and distributing products embodying intellectual property, including in a manner that facilitates legitimate digital trade.
  • Ensure standards of protection and enforcement that keep pace with technological developments, and in particular ensure that rights holders have the legal and technological means to control the use of their works through the Internet and other global communication media and to prevent unauthorized use of their works.
  • Provide strong standards enforcement of intellectual property right including by requiring accessible, expeditious and effective civil, administrative and criminal enforcement mechanisms

Standards: Ensure national treatment and acceptance of conformity assessment results.

Trade in Services:

  • Open market for trade in services by establishing rules across all sectors to prohibit discrimination of foreign suppliers including restrictions on the number of service suppliers in a given market, and requirements that cross-border service suppliers establish a local presence.
  • Where exceptions are needed, negotiation should follow a negative list approach to have the narrowest possible exceptions.

Financial Services:

  • Expand competitive market opportunities for U.S. financial service suppliers.
  • Ensure NAFTA countries refrain from imposing rules that could restrict cross-border data flows or that require the use or installation of local computing facilities.

 Investment: Secure for U.S. investors in the NAFTA countries important rights consistent with U.S. legal principles and practice while ensuring that NAFTA country investors in the U.S. are not accorded greater substantive rights than domestic investors.

 Government Procurement:

  • Establish transparent, predictable and non-discriminatory rules to govern government procurement practices – including publication of opportunities, timelines for submissions, fair review processes, awarding based on specified criteria, administrative process to review challenges.
  • Exclude sub-federal coverage from NAFTA commitments, and maintain domestic preferential purchasing programs for SMEs, women/minority owned businesses, “Buy America” for federal assistance to state and local projects, transportation services, food assistance and farm support; and key defense procurement.
  • Maintain exceptions for national security, “measures necessary to protect public morals, order or safety,” and “protecting IP.”

ITAC NAFTA Submission FINAL 17July2017