This is the fourth and final article in M. Holland’s series about the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA. The first covered the history of the trade deal, the second covered the current debate, and the third covered the real-life impact of negotiations. In this article, we’ll first remind you of upcoming dates and events that will influence trade talks. Then we’ll discuss the various ways that individuals can advocate for the issue.

Important Dates and Updates

Mexican inauguration on Dec. 1:

  • In a landslide victory, Manuel López Obrador was elected Mexico’s next president; however, he does not take office until Dec. 1.
  • Obrador has said that NAFTA must stay, but should be revised to address outdated portions and take better account of a changing trade landscape.
  • Shortly after the election, Obrador pledged to continue the current Mexican administration’s efforts to renegotiate NAFTA, and work with outgoing president Enrique Peña Nieto to smooth the transition.

U.S. midterm elections on Nov. 6:

  • The unofficial deadline for getting a revised NAFTA to the current Congress with proper notification has already passed.
  • Even so, it would likely take months for a completed revision to be approved by each country’s legislature, almost certainly pushing a new NAFTA into 2019.
  • U.S. President Donald Trump has said that major NAFTA negotiations will pause until after November elections.

Next round of NAFTA talks:

  • There have been nine “rounds” of NAFTA talks which brought U.S., Canadian and Mexican trade representatives together.
  • Failing to finish a deal by the last round, no official meeting was scheduled afterward, and NAFTA negotiations continued at “staff level.”
  • Government officials have been talking about another round of NAFTA talks in the coming weeks, but no date has been set.

While talks are stalled, now is the perfect time to weigh in on the NAFTA debate. Below is information on the various ways that individuals can do so.

Who to Contact:

Plastics Industry Association
Through its “grassroots” section here, you can fill out a form with the U.S. Plastics Industry Association (PIA). PIA has been advocating for an updated NAFTA, but has frequently spread awareness about the harm of prolonged negotiations and the associated tariffs used for leverage.

Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
Robert Lighthizer, the current U.S. trade representative, is the head negotiator for NAFTA talks. The relevant NAFTA phone line is the “WTO and Multilateral Affairs” line, at 202-395-6843.

Visit the website for mailing addresses and other avenues of inquiry.

Congress
The most traditional way to go about voicing an opinion on trade talks is by contacting your senators and representatives. There are many websites, like this, which will help you find who they are, and give their relevant contact information. It will also direct you to your congresspersons’ websites, where mailing addresses and other forms can be found.

Method of Contact:

If you would like to write a formal letter, this website can help you with templates. Simply copy and paste them into Word, fill the contact details, and rewrite the main paragraphs to suit your issue.

For writing about NAFTA, here is a cheat sheet of information and statistics for possible inclusion, which come from M. Holland’s previous three articles (NAFTA: What Is It And Why Should We Care?, NAFTA: The Current Debate and NAFTA: Consequences of Negotiations). Personal experience, as well, should be used where possible.

If you do not want to communicate by writing, some former staffers say that making a phone call is the best way to get the attention of your congressperson. In this case, think of calling the local office of your congressperson; the staffers at this office will likely have more time, and deliver more personalized responses, than those in Washington. The local office may also give better chances to meet your representative or senator in-person.

At M. Holland, we celebrate the diversity of thought, talents and personality of all of our clients, suppliers, business partners, employees and family. These negotiations have and will continue to affect the Plastics Industry. Whether you support the renegotiation, repeal, or status quo of NAFTA, we hope this series has been beneficial and has provided you with the information you need to share your voice. And, as a member of the plastics industry for nearly 70 years, we will continue to share ours.


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