A coalition of electric utilities is urging Trump trade negotiators to keep tariffs low in renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada to benefit commercial clean energy technologies.
The Business Council for Sustainable Energy, a coalition of energy trade groups and companies from all segments of the utility industry, sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer late Tuesday, insisting that NAFTA negotiators protect the positive changes made to the energy system over the past 25 years and ensure they are "not disrupted."
Specifically, the coalition wants the Trump administration to ensure that the zero tariff for products produced in North America is maintained, "as clean energy products benefit from this current system," the letter read.
The group also wants the Trump team to "promote U.S. codes and standards for clean energy products and work towards harmonization as appropriate," the coalition said.
In addition, any new agreement must acknowledge the role that information technology plays in the broader economy, including the energy industry "and to afford the necessary consumer protections and provisions to protect [intellectual property] in the digital economy," the letter stated.
"We would also like to see a recognition of the advancements made in energy productivity over that same time period recognized in any calculus of a trade balance," the letter read.
"Giving attention to items such as a zero tariff for goods produced in North America, promoting U.S. codes and standards, and updating language to reflect the growing impact of information technology on all sectors, will ensure that NAFTA supports the continued growth of clean energy and the benefits it provides to the U.S. economy," said Lisa Jacobson, the council's president, in a separate statement.
The group also used the letter to offer its energy expertise NAFTA team as it began the first round of trade talks with Mexico and Canada Wednesday. The talks are scheduled to last through the weekend.