Donna Harman, president and CEO of the Washington-based American Forest and Paper Association (AF&PA) joined other business leaders in late September 2017 at a press briefing to “underscore the importance of retaining investor protections ahead of the upcoming round of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiations.”
The American Petroleum Institute (API) hosted the press briefing where Harman and other participants focused on the need to retain investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) as NAFTA is renegotiated with Canada and Mexico.
“NAFTA countries account for 45 percent of forest products industry total exports, making them a hugely important market for our industry,” Harman said at the event. “Our interconnected supply chain benefits U.S. consumers and rural and urban communities across the country, where our industry directly employs 900,000 men and women. That’s why it’s critical to maintain and expand robust market access and investment protections as NAFTA is renegotiated with Mexico and Canada.”
Continued Harman, “ISDS is a strong trade enforcement mechanism that ensures U.S.-owned assets aren’t subject to unfair government investment practices by our trade partners. It is an essential part of a new and improved NAFTA for the future. She cited an example when an AF&PA member company “faced expropriation of assets by a Canadian provincial government action. The company was able to use the NAFTA ISDS provision to challenge the expropriation of its property to reach a $130 million settlement with Canada in 2010. Without ISDS, the government in Canada would have taken the asset without any compensation to the U.S.-based company.”
Regarding NAFTA overall, Harman added, “Some of our members also export paper packaging materials from their U.S. mills to converting plants in Mexico where they manufacture corrugated shipping containers. They do this to be close to their converting facilities, which serve local customers in the produce industry and other manufactured products.”
In addition to the API and the AF&PA, other organizations taking part in the press briefing were the American Chemistry Council, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, the National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Council for International Business.
AF&PA says it represents producers of pulp, paper, packaging, tissue and wood products that manufacture more than $200 billion in products annually.