John J. Hamre, president and CEO of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), delivered the opening keynote, “NAFTA as a National Security Priority,” on July 17, 2017, for the second of two events held to discuss a positive renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Appointed to his current position in January 2000, he had previously served as the 26th US deputy secretary of defense from 1997 and as undersecretary of defense (comptroller) from 1993 to 1997. In 2007, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates appointed Hamre to serve as the chairman of the Defense Policy Board, a position he has held under four secretaries of defense.
Hosted at the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE) with the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) and CSIS, this second event focused on renegotiating NAFTA to improve the critical issues of security, environment, energy, and human rights. The first event, held on June 13, covered core trade issues such as the need for a multilateral approach, changes to rules of origin, and the impact on specific sectors like agriculture. Participants made specific proposals for upgrading the 25-year-old agreement and outlined the tangible benefits to the United States, with an overall goal to set a practical agenda for a constructive NAFTA negotiation that the Congress can approve and all three member countries can support.
The panel of experts covering global issues beyond traditional trade negotiation included Chad P. Bown, PIIE senior fellow, on the Trump administration approach and existing US trade law; Patrick Leblond, senior fellow at CIGI, on gender and human rights; Daniel C. Esty, Hillhouse Professor of Environmental Law and Policy at Yale Law School, on the environment aspects of the agreement; and Gary Clyde Hufbauer, PIIE Reginald Jones Senior Fellow, on the critical energy sector aspects.