As Montana businesses extend their reach beyond the borders of the Treasure State, the Montana Chamber of Commerce was part of 111 associations that sent a letter to the Trump administration urging that investment and investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) remain high priorities in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) modernization as the first round of NAFTA negotiations begin Aug. 16.

Currently, the existing NAFTA framework protects American individuals, non-profit and business investors by extending several of the private property protections already found in the U.S. Constitution and U.S. law. This includes allowing due process, non-discrimination, fair treatments by the government and compensation for the seizure of property. Each of these disciplines is enforceable by the investor through a neutral arbitration system, the ISDS.

During the NAFTA negotiations, the Montana Chamber and others would like to see six items improved upon:

  • Ensuring intellectual property is fully protected in the United States as an investment;
  • Guaranteeing all sectors are afforded the same protections and access to ISDS to enforce those protections;
  • Improving U.S. investment access in Canada and Mexico on a non-discriminatory basis, including reforms that have opened markets since NAFTA was negotiated;
  • Adding stronger disciplines against forced technology transfers and localization;
  • Expanding access to ISDS enforcement for breaches of major investment contracts; and
  • Extending the enforcement period to at least 10 years after any potential termination of the agreement, to ensure that American investment is appropriately and fully protected.

ISDS enforcement is a core element to protect the United States against theft, discrimination and unfair treatment of U.S. property overseas.

The full letter, which was spearheaded by the National Association of Manufacturers, can be found here with a letter from the association’s vice president, Linda Dempsey.

“The fairness that is provided through the neutral arbitration process in the NAFTA framework is essential to encourage cross-border investment,” said Webb Brown, president and CEO of the Montana Chamber. “With minor improvements, we can expect better predictability in the system and maintain a robust U.S. trade agenda.”

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