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Business groups urge Trump to keep investment protections in NAFTA

Business groups urge Trump to keep investment protections in NAFTA
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Four leading business groups are urging the Trump administration to keep investment protections as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

The American Petroleum Institute, Business Roundtable, National Association of Manufacturers and U.S. Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to President Trump and several top officials arguing that investment-state dispute settlement (ISDS) protects U.S. investments in Canada and Mexico

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"Moving forward with a revised NAFTA that does not include such protections for U.S. businesses would threaten our economy and endanger the prospects for NAFTA 2.0 to be approved in Congress," they wrote to administration officials and trade leaders in Congress.

The business groups wrote that they support the efforts to modernize NAFTA and that an updated agreement can drive U.S. economic growth. 

"NAFTA’s current investment protections and ISDS support American jobs at home and protect U.S. businesses from discrimination abroad,” the groups wrote.

Beside Trump, the letter was sent to Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossFormer Trump officials find tough job market On The Money: Retail sales drop in latest sign of weakening economy | Fast-food workers strike for minimum wage | US officials raise concerns over Mexico's handling of energy permits US officials raise concerns over Mexico's handling of energy permits MORE, Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoTrump to attend private RNC donor retreat On China, is Biden channeling Trump or Trump's administration? They're not the same House Republican calls on Biden to boycott Beijing Olympics MORE, Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinOn The Money: Schumer urges Democrats to stick together on .9T bill | Collins rules out GOP support for Biden relief plan | Powell fights inflation fears Mnuchin expected to launch investment fund seeking backing from Persian Gulf region: report Larry Kudlow debuts to big ratings on Fox Business Network MORE, U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerBob LighthizerWhiskey, workers and friends caught in the trade dispute crossfire GOP senator warns quick vote on new NAFTA would be 'huge mistake' Pelosi casts doubt on USMCA deal in 2019 MORE and National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow.

"ISDS upholds the same fundamental due process and private property guarantees protected by our Constitution, and it obligates other countries to uphold these precepts as well," they wrote. 

The business groups argue that achieving bipartisan support in Congress for NAFTA, as Lighthizer said this week he is seeking, is bolstered by retaining ISDS.

In March, leaders on the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees led 99 Republican lawmakers in signing a letter to Lighthizer to maintain the ISDS in NAFTA.

The lawmakers warned that without the key protections “as strong as those already in the existing trade agreement, NAFTA will lose key congressional support.”

Top Republican trade lawmakers have said they are are concerned about Lighthizer's push to change ISDS to an "opt-in" clause rather than an automatic provision and without it would risk passage in Congress.