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Statement from Laura Dawson, Director of the Canada Institute, Wilson Center


Dear Friends of the Canada Institute,

There is a lot of interest in how NAFTA and other trade issues could affect the North American energy sector. Considering how much energy is traded in the region, the sector plays a surprisingly small role in the NAFTA. To explain why, we have put together a quick primer on trade and the energy sector.

Yesterday, a document appeared online that is purported to be a draft notification from the United States Trade Representative to Congress of the U.S. intent to renegotiate the NAFTA. This document has prompted a storm of speculation.

It is too early to say whether the letter is genuine and reflects an official position of the United States. And, even if it is the real thing, it may not be a final position. But if the letter is a genuine outline of objectives, it is interesting to note that the draft does not include any mention of the energy sector nor of the investor-state dispute settlement measures that are so important to energy firms investing abroad.

Even if yesterday’s document proves to be an accurate reading of the U.S. position, any final deal will reflect the interests of all three trading partners. Because of the importance of the deal for energy and because of the need for creative thinking on a new trade agenda, the Canada Institute briefer includes some suggestions for new energy provisions in NAFTA, including importing key elements from the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations.

I welcome your comments and questions on this issue, and wish you all a great spring weekend.


Laura Dawson

Director, Canada Institute