U.S. negotiators are considering a new approach to the controversial investor-state dispute settlement mechanism featuring an opt-in clause that would allow each of the three NAFTA countries to decide whether to use the provision, sources told Inside U.S. Trade.
[Jenny Leonard | August 19, 2017 | Inside US Trade]
Citing a recent letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and other Cabinet members signed by more than 100 business groups, these sources said the Trump administration likely would face “massive pushback” from the business community should it decide to put forward an ISDS proposal of that kind.
One source called the idea — because of the strong support for ISDS among business groups and on Capitol Hill — “not viable.” Another source questioned the administration’s intent in considering such a proposal, contending that it was unlikely to help secure any additional Republican votes for a final NAFTA deal — and equally unlikely to satisfy any Democrats enough to vote for the agreement.
But sources said USTR was “shopping around” for proposals and seeking reactions to the ISDS idea. During the first round of NAFTA talks, which wraps up in Washington on Sunday, the U.S. will not be tabling text on investment, and U.S. officials told sources the administration was still in the “policy development phase.”