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Policy

U.S. industry seeks to retain NAFTA’s investment provision

by Glenn Hess, special to C&EN
August 20, 2017 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 95, ISSUE 33

Chemical manufacturers and drugmakers are urging the Trump Administration to maintain investment protections in the North American Free Trade Agreement. The U.S., Canada, and Mexico began talks on Aug. 16 to renegotiate and modernize NAFTA, which took effect in 1994. In a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer, more than 100 business groups voiced support for retaining and strengthening NAFTA’s provision that protects foreign investors. It allows companies investing in another member country to challenge new laws or regulations that they believe harm their expected profits or investment potential and to seek compensation for their losses. Ethyl Corp. of Richmond, Va., used this part of NAFTA to successfully challenge Canada’s 1996 ban on imports of a gasoline additive. The letter’s signatories include two chemical manufacturers groups—the American Chemistry Council and the Society of Chemical Manufacturers & Affiliates—as well as the Biotechnology Innovation Organization and Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America. Labor unions and environmental advocates argue that the provision undermines the right of nations to regulate.

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