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ARCHIVED - RPP 2006-2007
NAFTA Secretariat

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Over a decade after the entry into force of the NAFTA, there is no doubt that it has served Canada well. Canadian merchandise exports to the United States grew at a compounded annual rate of 6.5% between 1994 and 2005. With regard to Mexico, bilateral trade in 2005 reached $17.8 billion, which represent a 292% increase from pre-NAFTA levels.

In the past decade, however, the trade and economic environment in which NAFTA operates has changed considerably. An increasingly integrated trading network, with global sourcing of inputs, as well as redefined markets, drives the need for greater North American competitiveness. Therefore, Canada is working with its trading partners to ensure that the NAFTA continues to be an effective tool to help North America meet and beat the competition from new and emerging markets. For example, when I met with my U.S. and Mexican counterparts on March 23-24, 2006, under the NAFTA Free Trade Commission, we committed to work to achieve concrete, commercially-relevant results that will continue to ease the flow of goods, services and capital between the three countries.

The Canadian Section of the NAFTA Secretariat, through its services of increasing quality in the management of international trade dispute settlement processes, also has a role to play in strengthening Canada's international trade performance. Exporters and investors are far more likely to engage in international commerce when they have access to impartial dispute settlement mechanism and services, should disagreements arise.

In this context, in 2006-2007, the NAFTA Secretariat, Canadian Section, will continue to focus on increased research support to panels and committees and on the implementation of ISO 9001: 2000 quality management standard. As well, it will continue its efforts to fully implement all provisions of the Public Service Modernization Act. These steps will allow it to continue to offer high-quality services in the management of international trade dispute settlement mechanisms for years to come.

The Honourable David Emerson
Minister of International Trade


I submit, for tabling in Parliament, the 2006-2007 Report on Plans and Priorities (RPP) for the NAFTA Secretariat, Canadian Section.

This document has been prepared based on the reporting principles contained in the Guide for the preparation of Part III of the2006-2007 Estimates: Reports on Plans and Priorities and Departmental Performance Reports:

  • It adheres to the specific reporting requirements outlined in the TBS guidelines;
  • It is based on the department's approved Program Activity Architecture as reflected in its MRRS;
  • It represents consistent, comprehensive, balanced and reliable information;
  • It provides a basis of accountability for the results achieved with the resources and authorities entrusted to it; and
  • It reports finances based on approved planned spending numbers from the Treasury Board Secretariat.

Françoy Raynauld, Ph.D.
NAFTA Secretariat, Canadian Section



1.3.1 Reason for Existence

To maintain a high level of impartial and independent service in the administration of the dispute settlement provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement in order to help preserve the benefits of free trade.

The NAFTA Secretariat is a unique organization established by the Free Trade Commission, comprised of the three ministers responsible for international trade in Canada, Mexico and the United States of America. The mandate of the NAFTA Secretariat also includes the provision of assistance to the Commission and support for various non-dispute related committees and working groups. More specifically, the NAFTA Secretariat administers the NAFTA dispute resolution processes under Chapters 19 and 20 of the NAFTA.

A similar administrative body, the Binational Secretariat, existed under the Canada United States Free Trade Agreement. In 1994, pursuant to the Parties' obligation under the NAFTA to establish permanent national section offices in each country, the Binational Secretariat, Canadian and United States national sections became the NAFTA Canadian and United States national sections, and with the addition of the Mexican Section, make up the NAFTA Secretariat. The national sections, which are "mirror images" of each other, are located in Ottawa, Washington and Mexico City, and each is headed by a Secretary appointed by its respective government. Each national section maintains a court-like registry relating to panel, committee and tribunal proceedings.

1.3.2 Financial and Human Resources

The following boxes provide information regarding planned spending on financial and human resources for the coming three-year period (see Section 2 for details):

Financial Resources
2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
$2,991,000 $2,991,000 $2,991,000

Human Resources
2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
12 FTEs 12 FTEs 12 FTEs


The NAFTA Secretariat, Canadian Section, has one strategic outcome (See Table 1, below). The following table summarizes the five departmental priorities for 2006-2007 and the planned spending associated with each of them. The planned spending is further described in detail in Section 2.

Table 1: Departmental Priorities
Strategic Outcome

A highly efficient, impartial and rules-based international trade dispute resolution process that benefits Canadian exporters to NAFTA countries, as well as NAFTA country exporters doing business in Canada
Program Activity

Administration of international trade dispute settlement mechanisms
  Planned Spending ($ thousands)  
Priorities (Consolidated) Type 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 Expected Results Performance Indicators1
Improved Support to Panels and Committees Ongoing 650 650 650 Improved support to panels and committees.

Timely, accessible and responsive administrative processes.
At least 80% of our clients indicating that they were at least fully satisfied with the procedural advice and the relevance, timeliness and quality of information provided to them.
Unbiased and Equitable Administrative Process Ongoing 600 600 600 Unbiased and equitable administrative process that ensures the integrity of the NAFTA trade dispute resolution process. At least 80% of clients indicating that they are fully satisfied that the NAFTA Secretariat, Canadian Section, administered the dispute settlement provisions in a manner which ensured an unbiased and equitable administrative process.
Openness and accountability Ongoing 120 120 120 Corporate culture that ensures transparency in management processes. At least 80% of clients indicating that they are at least fully satisfied with the policies, systems and procedures and that they are relevant, accurate and responsive.
Increased national and international collaboration Ongoing 200 200 200 Increased national and international collaboration. Participation in, and influence on, national and international joint initiatives in the trade dispute administration areas.
Operational efficiency and effectiveness Ongoing 730 730 730 Improved management practices and continuous learning. At least 80% of the clients indicating that they are fully satisfied that the NAFTA Secretariat, Canadian Section, administered the dispute settlement provisions in a manner that ensured unbiased administrative processes, equity, security and fairness.

Internal Audit exercise and regular updates at management meetings.
Highest Quality of Service Ongoing 691 691 691 Maintenance of the highest quality of administration to all dispute settlement proceedings. At least 80% or more of the clients indicating that they are at least fully satisfied with the technical and logistical support provided to them, including scheduling of panel hearings, conference calls, panel meetings.

Internal Audit exercise and regular updates at management meetings.
Total Planned Spending   2,991 2,991 2,991  
Full Time Equivalents   12 12 12  

1- See Section 2.4 – Performance Measurement Strategy


The NAFTA Secretariat comprises the Canadian, the United States and the Mexican national sections. Article 1908 of the NAFTA requires that the Secretaries of the NAFTA Secretariat act jointly to provide administrative assistance to all panels and committees. Therefore, the Canadian Section's relationship with its counterpart sections in the United States and Mexico is fundamental to its effective performance.

Additionally, the NAFTA Secretariat, Canadian Section, is one of many Canadian and NAFTA country organizations involved in international trade matters. While it operates at arm's length from other federal government institutions, it can only succeed in fulfilling its strategic outcome by working with others. Therefore, in fulfillment of its mandate, the NAFTA Secretariat interacts directly with roster members (list of international trade law experts established by the NAFTA governments to serve as panelists in disputes), panelists (adjudicators of these disputes), counsel of participants in the disputes, investigating authorities (government agencies whose decisions are reviewed by panels) and representatives of the Parties.


The success of the NAFTA Secretariat and its credibility as an impartial and independent organization depends on the close working relationship between the three national sections, together with the professionalism and competence of its employees. In light of this, the NAFTA Secretariat, Canadian Section, must not only guarantee an independent and impartial process, but must also keep up its knowledge base and technical expertise, in order to maintain credibility within the internal trade-law community. In the past few years, the Canadian Section has made a concerted effort to develop and retain key employees and managers to ensure that they have the knowledge and essential skills to fulfil their job requirements. However, the challenge of training and retaining knowledgeable staff requires ongoing attention backed by adequate financial resources and central agency supports.

By operating in a tri-national, trilingual, multicultural environment, new initiatives require extensive consultation and negotiation amongst the national sections of the Secretariat before they can be implemented. NAFTA Secretariat managers are aware of these challenges and are expected to take appropriate course of action to moderate the risk factors while ensuring the delivery of their mandated responsibility.