(Washington, DC, September 19) – The Committee to Support U.S. Trade Laws (CSUSTL) today published a position paper calling for the abolition of Chapter 19 of the original NAFTA agreement (“Review and Dispute Settlement in Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Matters”). The paper identifies the current system of binational panel review of whether domestic trade remedy actions comply with domestic law – as an alternative to ordinary judicial review of such measures – as an “antiquated, obsolete provision that undermines the rule of law in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.”
CSUSTL’s paper explains how the original purpose and questionable need for Chapter 19 have been overtaken by developments in international trade law, prominently including the (then new) WTO’s implementation, in 1995, of a binding international dispute settlement mechanism. All three NAFTA countries are members of the WTO and, as such, each can avail itself of the WTO’s dispute settlement processes if it disagrees with the trade remedy actions of another NAFTA country.
The paper also explains how abolishing Chapter 19 would finally eliminate the substantial Constitutional cloud that has long hung over the process. Chapter 19 panelists enjoy an absence of accountability and immunity from removal, even as they conduct final reviews of decisions made by officials nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. Abolishing Chapter 19 would also acknowledge the poor quality of many decisions issued by dispute panels. The paper identifies a number of shortcomings and harsh reviews by respected jurists.
“The Committee to Support U.S. Trade Laws has long noted the poor quality, the long delays and the sheer lack of need for such an obsolete process,” said Thomas M. Sneeringer, President of CSUSTL, “so this occasion of taking changed circumstances into account and modernizing the arrangement strikes us as the perfect time to put Chapter 19 not just on the table, but on the chopping block.” As CSUSTL’s paper concludes, “The time for Chapter 19, if there ever was one, has passed. The United States must demonstrate confidence in its laws, and in its judicial system to insure that those laws are faithfully executed, by ending the failed experiment.”
The Committee to Support U.S. Trade Laws (“CSUSTL”) is an organization of companies, trade associations, labor unions, law firms, and individuals committed to preserving and enhancing U.S. trade laws and supporting trade policies that benefit the United States-based productive economy. CSUSTL’s members span multiple sectors, including manufacturing, technology, agriculture, mining, energy, and services. We are dedicated to ensuring that the laws against unfair trade are not weakened through legislation or policy decisions in Washington, DC, in international negotiations, or through dispute settlement at the World Trade Organization (WTO) and elsewhere.
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