Six inconvenient truths about NAFTA renegotiations

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CIGI | 18 July 2017

Six inconvenient truths about NAFTA renegotiations

By Jean-Frédéric Morin and E. Richard Gold, Centre For International Governance Innovation (CIGI)

The renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement’s (NAFTA’s) standards on patents is not good news for Canada. Any give by Canada will be costly not only to our health care system, but also to Canadian innovators.

This grim prospect is not apparent in policy makers’ reassuring declarations. The United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer talks about “modernizing” rules negotiated 25 years ago, when “digital trade was in its infancy.” Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland officially welcomes the US initiative as an opportunity to “best align NAFTA to new realities.” Like her American counterpart, she calls for a “modernized NAFTA.” Framed this way, the renegotiation of NAFTA patent provisions might sound like a mere update. And who is against updates?

However, there are structural realities that explain why Canada will be the loser on any patent concessions made through a revision to NAFTA. These are inconvenient truths, things that Canadians find unpleasant to remember. It is, nevertheless, necessary for Canadian negotiators to acknowledge these truths in order to limit the damage of a renegotiated NAFTA driven by the interests of the United States, which has just released negotiating objectives that include a 10-point plan for intellectual property.

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source: CIGI