NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) Secretariat
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Secretariat, comprised of a Canadian Section, a Mexican Section and a United States Section, is responsible for the administration of the dispute settlement provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement. It administers the mechanisms specified under the NAFTA to resolve trade disputes between national industries and/or governments in a timely and impartial manner.
The principal dispute settlement mechanisms of the NAFTA are found in Chapter 11, Chapter 19, and Chapter 20. Most disputes come under Chapter 19, which concerns anti-dumping and subsidy issues. In Canada, it is the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), which makes dumping and subsidy decisions, while the Canadian International Trade Tribunal (CITT) conducts injury inquiries as to whether or not the dumping or subsidy has caused injury or retardation (material retardation of the establishment of a domestic industry) or is threatening to cause injury to the domestic industry.
The NAFTA Secretariat can review these decisions. Dumping, subsidy and injury decisions can also be appealed in Canada to the Federal Court of Canada. For more, see Overview of the Dispute Settlement Provisions.
Parties entering into international business contracts should consider one of several alternative methods of resolving disputes which do not entail going to court. The inclusion of appropriate provisions in international commercial contracts that address the resolution of private commercial disputes is an important first step in support of that objective. See the Secretariat’s guide to Alternative Dispute Resolution.