Dear Ambassador Lighthizer, Secretaries Ross, Tillerson and Mnuchin and Director Cohn:
As the nation’s largest business organizations—representing companies of every size, sector, and state in the union—we write to affirm the critical importance we ascribe to retaining strong investment protections and investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) in the negotiations to modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
For decades, U.S. trade and investment agreements have provided for neutral arbitration to resolve investment disputes. These ISDS procedures ensure that other countries treat U.S. investors fairly, do not seize their property without compensation, and do not impose “forced localization” requirements that compel jobs to be shipped overseas.
ISDS does not infringe U.S. sovereignty. Rather, it 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. ISDS 2 cannot overturn U.S. laws or regulations: All arbiters can do is award compensation when a government expropriates property or otherwise tramples on the rule of law. Moreover, few cases have ever been filed against the United States, and the U.S. government has never lost an ISDS dispute.
Attempts to eliminate or weaken ISDS will harm American businesses and workers and, as a consequence, will serve to undermine business community support for the NAFTA modernization negotiations. We stand ready to work with you to find a positive path forward. Sincerely,