Robert Lighthizer, slated to be sworn in as U.S. Trade Representative on Monday afternoon, will have a busy first week in office, meeting with congressional committees of jurisdiction to discuss the administration’s negotiating objectives for NAFTA and traveling to the two-day APEC trade ministers meeting in Vietnam, sources told Inside U.S. Trade.
[Jenny Leonard] May 14th, 2017 [Inside U.S. Trade]
Lighthizer is expected to discuss a second draft of the administration’s notice to Congress on the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement in meetings with the House Ways & Means and Senate Finance committees, as well as with the House Advisory Group on Negotiations and the Senate Advisory Group on Negotiations, these sources said.
After Congress and the administration agree to a final version, the president will officially notify lawmakers of his intent to begin talks with Ottawa and Mexico City 90 days after the date of the notice. That notice, sources said, is expected to be sent the week of May 22 — meaning negotiations with the two NAFTA partners will not begin until late August.
A first draft of the notice was sent to lawmakers in late March after acting U.S. Trade Representative Stephen Vaughn, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and other administration officials met with the Ways & Means Committee and the House Advisory Group on Negotiations, or HAGON. Those meetings — as well as meetings with Senate counterparts — are required under Section 105(a)(1)(B) of the Trade Promotion Authority law.
The Senate meetings have not yet been held because senators have demanded that such consultations, in accordance with TPA, be conducted by a Senate-confirmed USTR. After both chambers passed a statutory waiver for Lighthizer to lawfully serve as USTR, the Senate confirmed him on May 1, with broad bipartisan support — 128 days after his nomination was announced.
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