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July 18 -- Comment period extended to August 17, 2023. https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2023-15134

June 16 -- Since commencement of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the United States, Canada, and Mexico (the Parties) have focused the work of the North American Competitiveness Committee (Committee) on expanding trilateral cooperation on North American workforce development issues and establishing mechanisms for cooperation during emergency situations that affect North American trade flows, including by establishing a joint understanding of critical infrastructure priorities in North America. The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) is seeking public comments and recommendations for these and potential additional workstreams for the Committee relevant to enhancing North American competitiveness. The deadline for the submission of written comments is July 17, 2023.

The purpose of the Committee, which was established under Chapter 26 of the USMCA, is to:

-- develop and implement cooperative activities in support of a strong economic environment that incentivizes production in North America;
-- facilitate regional trade and investment;
-- enhance a predictable and transparent regulatory environment;
-- encourage the swift movement of goods and the provision of services throughout the region; and
-- respond to market developments and emerging technologies.

The Parties agreed that the Committee should not detract from or unnecessarily duplicate work that is taking place under other USMCA committees or in other venues such as bilateral cooperation mechanisms, including the U.S.-Mexico High-Level Economic Dialogue and the Roadmap for a Renewed U.S.-Canada Partnership. The Parties also agreed that projects for the Committee must be based on targeted and specific proposals to maximize effectiveness and impact.

To coordinate U.S. government policy for the Committee, USTR has established a Trade Policy Staff Committee (TPSC) Subcommittee on North American Competitiveness (TPSC Subcommittee) comprised of officials from across the U.S. government.

USTR invites interested parties to submit comments to assist USTR and the TPSC Subcommittee in recommending additional workstreams for the Committee relevant to enhancing North American competitiveness. Comments should be responsive to the Committee activities described in the USMCA at Article 26.1, namely:

-- effective approaches and information-sharing activities to support a competitive environment in North America that facilitates trade and investment between the Parties, and promotes economic integration and development within the free trade area;
-- ways to further assist traders of a Party to identify and take advantage of trade opportunities under the USMCA;
-- recommendations aimed at enhancing the participation of SMEs, and enterprises owned by under-represented groups including women, indigenous peoples, youth, and minorities;
-- projects and policies to develop a modern physical and digital trade- and investment-related infrastructure, and improve the movement of goods and provision of services within the free trade area;
-- action to combat market-distorting practices by non-Parties that are affecting the North American region; and
-- cooperative activities for trade and investment between the Parties with respect to innovation and technology, including best practices in their application.

In addition, USTR invites interested parties to submit comments to assist USTR and the TPSC Subcommittee in the ongoing implementation of current work under the Committee related to North American workforce development and cooperation among the Parties during emergency situations that affect North American trade flows, including the establishment of a joint understanding of critical infrastructure priorities in North America described in Decision #5 of the Free Trade Commission of the USMCA.

Comments could address, among other topics:

-- recommendations aimed at developing procedures for coordination and consultation in response to specific emergency situations;
-- effective approaches and mechanisms to timely consult with industries and other non-governmental stakeholders, including workers, most directly impacted by the disruption of North American trade flows in an emergency situation;
-- existing projects and policies to engage with state, local, tribal, or territorial governments to address disruptions to trade in emergency situations; and
-- examples of activities related to re-establishing the flow of trade after emergency situations.

TPSC membership: https://ustr.gov/about-us/executive-branch-agencies-trade-policy-staff-committee-and-trade-policy-review-group
North American competitiveness: A team effort, Brookings (2.28.23) https://www.brookings.edu/blog/up-front/2023/02/27/north-american-competitiveness-a-team-effort/
North American Competitiveness Working Group -- UCSD Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies https://usmex.ucsd.edu/policy-forums/north-american-competitiveness-working-group.html

FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2023-12843

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