USTR - Statement of USTR Spokesperson Neena Moorjani Regarding the Constitutional Challenge
Office of the United States Trade Representative

 

Statement of USTR Spokesperson Neena Moorjani Regarding the Constitutional Challenge
09/13/2005



“Today, the Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports filed suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit challenging the constitutionality of the dispute settlement procedure under chapter 19 of the NAFTA, including as it has been applied in the softwood lumber matter.  We are still reviewing the complaint.  However, the United States firmly believes that the dispute settlement procedure in the NAFTA, as it is structured and as it has been applied, complies with the Constitution.  We remain strongly committed to the NAFTA, including the dispute settlement procedure, and the Administration will vigorously defend its constitutionality.

The dispute settlement process is a critical part of the NAFTA.  This or a similar procedure have been negotiated by two Presidents and implemented twice by the Congress, once to implement the 1988 U.S.-Canada FTA and once to implement the NAFTA.
 
The United States has benefited tremendously from the NAFTA.  Since 1993, U.S. merchandise exports to our NAFTA partners have more than doubled, growing nearly twice as fast as our exports to the rest of the world.  The NAFTA has also increased trade in services, cross-border investment, and trilateral cooperation on a range of issues, including technical standards, energy, and environment.”


Background:

Today, the Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports filed suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, alleging that the binational dispute settlement procedure under chapter 19 of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and that procedure as it has been implemented in U.S. law, violates the U.S. Constitution.  The suit challenges a similar procedure under chapter 19 of the U.S.-Canada FTA, although that procedure was suspended when the NAFTA entered into force.  Finally, the suit alleges that the NAFTA panel and Extraordinary Challenge Committee proceedings regarding the ITC’s 2002 injury determination with respect to imports of softwood lumber from Canada violated constitutional standards.

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