Analysis: No deals but immigration, climate-change promises aired at Amigos summit
North America’s three leaders have their obvious differences, but they still know how to make nice
North American leaders agree to work on butterfly protection
Mexico, the United States and Canada have agreed to form a working group on the conservation of Monarch butterflies, whose numbers fell to record lows this year at their wintering grounds in central Mexico.
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto announced the decision Wednesday at the end of a one-day summit with U.S. President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Monarch butterflies’ new population low ramps up fears of migration’s collapse (29 January)
Three Amigos see some progress on Trans-Pacific trade pact
Prime Minister Stephen Harper left Mexico Thursday minus any good news on the Keystone XL pipeline project, but with some forward momentum on a massive trade pact.
And he leaves as well with a hint of progress on setting long-awaited greenhouse gas emission standards for the oil and gas industry in step with the United States.
Harper and his North American counterparts agreed to present what Obama called a united front against other countries negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership, to ensure national interests weren’t compromised.
“The key at this point is to make sure that our countries, which hold ourselves up as champions of free trade, resolve our legitimate national interests in these negotiations so that we can present a united front,” Obama said late Wednesday.
The relationship between the “three amigos” – Harper, Obama and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto – is less than perfect.
Harper hasn’t acceded to Pena Nieto’s wish that Canada lift visa requirements for Mexicans. And the Keystone pipeline continues to overshadow the relationship with Obama. But the three put on a united front this week at the end of the so-called Three Amigos summit, agreeing to a multitude of issues to more easily move people and goods across North American borders.
In Mexico Meeting, a Show of Friendship With Few Results on Immigration and Trade
(New York Times) At a summit meeting, President Obama and his Mexican and Canadian counterparts promised enduring cooperation, but the show of friendship did not mask the stress points.
Three Amigos Summit: Obama Presses Harper On Climate Change
U.S. President Barack Obama used the podium of the Three Amigos summit on Wednesday to push Prime Minister Stephen Harper to work with him on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, saying the science that supports climate change can’t be denied.
Obama gave Harper a primer on reducing greenhouse gases as he answered a question about why he has not approved the Keystone XL pipeline.
“Stephen and I, during a break after lunch, discussed a shared interest in working together around dealing with greenhouse gas emissions. And this is something that we have to deal with,” Obama said as he shared the stage with Harper and the Mexican prime minister at a joint news conference.
A readout on the 30-minute meeting from the Prime Minister’s Office made no mention of that conversation.
“I said previously that how Keystone impacted greenhouse gas emissions would affect our decision. But frankly, it has to affect all of our decisions at this stage because the science is irrefutable,” Obama said.
Canada Aims To Repair Visa Rift During Harper’s Mexico Visit
(HuffPost) Will a few days in Mexico City be enough time for Stephen Harper to thaw years of frosty relations between Canada and Mexico?
The prime minister and his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, held one-on-one meetings at the National Palace in Mexico City on Tuesday during Harper’s first official visit to the country. Over lunch, the two were expected to discuss ways they could repair the rift in their relationship.
Relations between Canada and Mexico soured in 2009 after Ottawa slapped a visa requirement on Mexican visitors. Ottawa said the visas were needed to deal with thousands of bogus asylum claims. But the country’s residents and its business leaders say they have felt Ottawa’s cold shoulder ever since.
Carlo Dade, the director of the Centre for Trade & Investment Policy at the Canada West Foundation, said Mexico has been trying to reach out to Canada for two or three years to convince officials of the advantages of working together.
Canada, Mexico sign open-skies deal before Three Amigos summit
(CBC) Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexico’s president, Enrique Pena Nieto, oversee the signing of a number of agreements improving business links between the two countries. It includes a open-skies deal meant to increase the number of options for air-travelers going to or coming from Mexico
Canadian-Mexican relations — Rivals more than friends
(The Economist) YOU can usually count on diplomats to be, well, diplomatic in their public utterances, reserving blunter statements for meetings behind closed doors. Not so Francisco Suárez Dávila, Mexico’s ambassador to Canada, who earlier this month said his country’s relations with Canada were stagnant and that Canada held an Anglo-centric view of the world in which Mexico does not exist. His message does not augur well for the official visit to Mexico by Stephen Harper, Canada’s prime minister, which begins today, or for the meeting of all three North American leaders at a NAFTA summit two days later in Toluca (pictured), the capital of Mexico State.
The immediate cause of Mexico’s anger is Canada’s refusal to lift a visa requirement for all visitors from Mexico imposed in 2009 to stem a surge in false-refugee claims. Although the number of false claimants has dropped (along with business and tourist visits), the requirement remains in place, leaving Mexico in the company of countries such as Algeria, Iraq and Kyrgyzstan. Neither lobbying by the Mexican government nor a call from the group representing Canada’s largest companies have swayed the Canadian government. Speculation that Mr Harper is just waiting for the Toluca summit to make an announcement has been rebutted by government officials.
Stephen Harper won’t drop visa rule for Mexicans, source says
Visa requirements imposed in 2009 to curb bogus asylum claims
(CBC) A new report from the Canadian Council for Chief Executives also calls the visa requirements an impediment to the Canada-Mexico relationship.
The report, released on Tuesday, finds that spending by Mexican tourists in Canada has fallen to $200 million in 2012 from $365 million in 2008.
After a meeting with Mexican President Enrique Nieto in 2012, Harper said he would like to see an end to the visa and “ultimately … visa-free travel with Mexico.”Nieto will host Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama for a continental summit in Toluca on Feb. 19. Dubbed as the Three Amigos Summit, it will be the first meeting of the trio since a brief gathering almost two years ago.
The focus of the trip will be on strengthening trade, energy and security relationship with Canada’s North American counterparts, Harper’s spokesperson said earlier.
Why the dreams and nightmares of NAFTA didn’t come true
(PBS Newshour) So, how have the economies from these three countries performed since? For one, they have generally grown, but at different rates. While that fact in itself isn’t hard to assess, determining NAFTA’s direct impact, and whether growth would have been stronger or weaker regardless, is more complicated. Given the multitude of other economic factors and political conditions at play, takeaways implying causation based on correlation — that growth was up during the NAFTA years because of NAFTA — should be made with care. …
The lasting impact of NAFTA may be more “North-American-ness” of what we trade
“NAFTA made a lot of industry in the United States and Canada, Mexico be North American,” Kehoe said.
Take automobile manufacturing. Any American-labeled car — Ford, GM, Chrysler — may have a chassis made in the U.S., doors made in Canada and may have been assembled in Mexico.
“It’s completely integrated,” Kehoe said. “So if you had a Ford and you asked, ‘Was it made in the United States, Canada or Mexico?’ — that’s almost a meaningless question.”
Let’s become amigos again
A ‘Pact for North America would spur continental initiatives
By Thomas d’Aquino, Co-Chair, North American Forum, and former CEO, Canadian Council of Chief Executives.
The goal should be productive and competitive paramountcy for North America by 2020
(Financial Post) The NAFTA, once a shining example of leading-edge statecraft, now is tired and unappreciated. The grand design envisioned by the SPP [Security and Prosperity Partnership] has fallen into oblivion — a victim of partisan politics, bureaucratic overload and leadership neglect. Since the NACC fell by the wayside, the business leadership of the three countries, which played a decisive role in the realization of the NAFTA, now comes into contact only sporadically. While is it true that work on the trilateral agenda continues in areas such as border facilitation, regulatory cooperation, health and emergency management, and security and defence cooperation, this is the stuff of incrementalism – a far cry from the vision and ambition that occupied the continent’s political chambers and boardrooms in decades past. At the same time, the competitive challenges from fast-moving Asian economies intensify — changing the game for all of us.
The time to make up for years of neglect and lost opportunity is now. At a recent meeting of the North American Forum in Mexico City, we referred to this as seizing “North America’s Moment.” As we go on the offensive, we have some powerful advantages. The continent continues to be home to the world’s most innovative thinking and entrepreneurial spirit. Demography is on our side and we benefit from a skilled and mobile workforce. Our resource base is massive and recent technology offers the promise of continental energy independence. Manufacturing is making a comeback as well, particularly in Mex ico. A stronger, more resilient United States economy is revving up once again. A stable and confident Canada is on the march. And Mexico’s promise is brighter than ever with farreaching, bipartisan-backed reforms underway in fiscal management, energy liberalization, competition policy and education. Adding to the continent’s advantage is an alignment of public opinion — in all three countries there is majority support for expanded free trade and economic cooperation in the neighbourhood.
When President Obama and Prime Minister Harper meet with President Peña Nieto in Mexico next week, they should sign a Pact for North America. The Pact should reflect both ambition and realism, e.g. achieving productive and competitive paramountcy for North America in the global economy by 2020.
This would require removing all tariff and non-tariff barriers within the North American economic space; establishing an integrated ground, air and sea transportation network linking our three countries; more rapidly replacing outdated border management with new technology; creating a single continental energy market with the free movement of all energy products; establishing environmental standards and regulations across our three countries; and developing a strategy for innovation that marshals cooperation among our industrial, scientific and education communities. Lastly, our three countries should adopt a protocol to guide co-operation in major trade negotiations – e.g., the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
Harper and Obama will have thorny issues to discuss at the Three Amigos
Fracking, Alberta’s vast oil sands and untapped offshore reserves – including immense Arctic potential – are transforming North America into a global energy superpower.
With production soaring in all three countries, Canada, Mexico and the United States may soon be so awash in oil that energy is expected to be a key topic at the summit of the Three Amigos; when President Enrique Peña Nieto hosts President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Toluca next month.
Foreign Ministers upbeat on Canada, U.S., Mexico partnership
(RCI) U.S. Secretary John Kerry, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, and Mexico’s Foreign Secretary José Antonio Meade were upbeat on Friday (January 17) at a press conference in Washington about their three country partnership as they prepared for a leaders’ summit in Mexico on February.
All three ministers emphasized the importance of the 20 year old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) among the three, and the benefits to the partners.
A bi-lateral issue, the Keystone XL oil pipeline from the Canadian province of Alberta across Canada to the American state of Nebraska, is still not resolved, with the Canadian government supporting the project, and the U.S. still insisting on more consultations with the public.
The 20th anniversary of NAFTA’s implementation on Jan. 1 has revived some of the perennial arguments that have surrounded the bloc since its inception. The general consensus has been that the trade deal was a mixed bag, a generally positive yet disappointing economic experiment.
That consensus may not be wrong. The history of the North American Free Trade Agreement as an institution has been one of piecemeal, often reluctant, integration of three countries with a long tradition of protectionism and fierce defense of economic national sovereignty. While NAFTA was a boon for certain sectors of the economy, particularly the U.S. agriculture industry, the net effect of the world’s second-largest trade bloc remains somewhat unknown.
The debate over NAFTA can, however, obscure some fundamental realities about the future of North America and its three major countries. While the formation of the trading bloc represented a remarkable political achievement, NAFTA has remained a facilitating institution whose success has mirrored the ebb and flow in the slow but inevitable economic integration of the United States, Mexico and Canada. What lies ahead for the three countries will not so much be the result of NAFTA as NAFTA will be the result of the strong geopolitical imperative binding the three together. Washington, Mexico City and Ottawa are tied into major global and regional trends that Stratfor has been following over the years, trends that continue to point to a comparatively bright future for the North American triad. Read more: NAFTA and the Future of Canada, Mexico and the United States | Stratfor 7 January 2014
By Stephen Blank
This year marks NAFTA’s 20th anniversary, and we can look back on impressive (if widely unknown) achievements in building a more integrated North American economic system. But to cope with looming continental issues, Canada, the United States, and Mexico need to work even more closely together—simply revamping this two-decade-old agreement won’t be enough.
NAFTA wasn’t the beginning of North America’s more integrated economic system. Rather, NAFTA recognized and formalized changes in the structure of the North American economy already underway. Today Mexico, Canada, and the United States are deeply interconnected and interdependent, with an unprecedented degree of collaboration among them. What is particularly important are not just increases in trade in raw materials and finished goods among the three nations, but rather the striking growth in the cross border movement of parts and components. We don’t just sell stuff to each other. We make stuff together.
Background: Mapping the New North American Reality
Stephen Blank, Stephanie R. Golob, Guy Stanley – Co-Chairs, Study Group
The papers in this series were written by participants in a project sponsored by the PanAmerican Partnership for Business Education, an alliance of four North American business schools. In cooperation with HEC-Montreal and the IRPP, the Partnership hosted a Study Group on “Mapping the New North American Reality” in November 2003. To gain a better understanding of what this new reality entails, we invited 30 Canadian, Mexican and US colleagues to explore the nature of North American economic integration.
The goal of the project was to open a new dialogue, centered on the disjuncture between the facts on the ground – pointing to the deepening of interdependence in such crucial areas as energy, security, health and safety, and job creation – and the near-absence of a public consciousness of shared “North American” interests. We challenged the group to “think North America,” and, by extension, to “talk North America” by mapping out how integration was actually taking place in diverse sectors, issue areas, and geographical regions.
By Dana Gabriel
(Sierra Club) Pressure is mounting on Canada to finish up a long-delayed trade deal with the EU. Despite outstanding issues that still must be settled, there is a final push to try and complete an agreement this summer. If both sides are able to secure a deal, it would lay the groundwork for the proposed U.S.-EU trade pact. There is the possibility that the U.S.-EU transatlantic trade talks could also include the other NAFTA partners and maybe even other countries. Mexico has already shown interest in joining and if Canada can’t put the final touches on their own agreement with the EU, they might also be part of the negotiations. This would facilitate plans for a coming NAFTA-EU free trade zone and the formation of a transatlantic economic union.19 September 2010
U.S. import bill violates NAFTA, Canada’s ambassador warns
Canada’s ambassador to the United States has issued a stern warning to the most powerful congressional leaders on Capitol Hill over a protectionist piece of legislation that “will have a disproportionally negative impact on intertwined U.S.-Canada supply chains and on jobs in both our countries.”
In a letter obtained by The Canadian Press, Gary Doer also points out that the Foreign Manufacturers Legal Accountability Act violates America’s World Trade Organization and the North American Free Trade Agreement obligations.
The act, set for a House vote as early as this week, would ban imports from companies that don’t have an American agent. It’s aimed at ensuring that the foreign manufacturers of defective protects can be served with legal papers.
The proposed legislation is the result of the Chinese drywall fiasco that sickened some Americans; consequently, it’s had broad bipartisan support and is not expected to face many hurdles in Congress.
But similar to the controversial Buy American provisions inserted last year into President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus package, the law will ensnare Canadian manufacturers in onerous and costly red tape even though they’re not the intended target.
JPAC calls for harmonized policies and support for low-carbon economies
(CEC) Montreal, 17 May 2010—Following its most recent public meeting on “North America’s Energy Market: Aligning Policies and Managing Carbon,” the Joint Public Advisory Committee (JPAC) has issued recommendations for promoting low-carbon economies throughout the region. The recommendations … include the need to develop a joint energy policy approach for the three countries as well as common definitions for clean, renewable and green technologies.
9 March 2010
U.S. lawmakers urge scrapping of NAFTA
“NAFTA has become a moniker for anxiety about globalization and worries about the economy,” said Maryscott Greenwood, executive director of the Canadian American Business Council.
“There’s a lack of awareness about the important role that Canada and the United States play in each other’s economies. There is just a real fundamental misunderstanding about how integrated our supply chains are.”
New study to provide roadmap for sustainable freight transportation
Montreal, 4/11/2009 – The Secretariat of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) has embarked on a new study to evaluate opportunities for making freight transportation more sustainable in North America.
The transportation sector contributes about 26 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions in North America. At least a quarter of that share is related to transporting freight.
Billions of tons of goods are moved every year in complex industrial and commercial supply chains that span the continent. Two-thirds of these goods are moved by truck and most of the rest by rail, giving the freight sector a significant environmental footprint. Freight transportation in North America, which is closely tied to growing trade under NAFTA, is a significant contributor of greenhouse gas emissions. Along with building-related energy improvements, the transportation sector represents one of the biggest opportunities for environmental improvements in the region.
8 August 2009
(Globe & Mail) The annual Three Amigos meeting itself – only five years old – is showing signs of fading in importance. It’s jettisoned an ambitious set of three-way talks adopted during U.S. president George W. Bush’s term in office to advance economic and security integration of North American. This much-ballyhooed Security and Prosperity Partnership is missing from the agenda, as are the senior North American business executives that had been invited to the past two summits to help steer discussions. More
Security, drug war on agenda at North America summit
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Border security, the drug war and arms smuggling will join trade and the recession on the agenda of President Barack Obama’s first “three amigos” summit with the leaders of Mexico and Canada this weekend in Mexico.
A messy ménage à trois
(The Economist) BARACK OBAMA can hardly be accused of ignoring his next-door neighbours. So far this year he has held six meetings with Stephen Harper, Canada’s prime minister, and five with Mexico’s president, Felipe Calderón. But familiarity does not necessarily imply deep friendship. Intertwined though their economies are through the North American Free-Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Mexico’s hopes of forming part of something like the European Union are forlorn. Mr Harper shuns trilateralism, and seems to care only about strengthening Canada’s bilateral ties with Washington. And since 2001 the United States has been less interested in integration than in border security.
Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) Ministerial Statement
Canada, Mexico and the United States reaffirm their commitment to tackle environmental problems across North America. This can only be accomplished by partnering and engaging extensively with stakeholders and the public in all three countries and by promoting a sense of shared responsibility and stewardship for the environment in our region.
To this end, we committed today to renew, revitalize and refocus the CEC to better serve the environment and citizens of our countries. More specifically, we have asked our officials to return in mid-July with a proposal to examine the governance of the CEC with a view to enhance accountability, improve transparency of the Secretariat’s activities, ensure alignment with Council priorities, and set clear performance goals.
U.S. TRADE POLICY: No NAFTA tinkering
(Globe & Mail) Ron Kirk, the Trade Representative of the United States, has in effect confirmed this week that the Obama administration’s North American trade policy corresponds to the informal version of Senator Barack Obama’s platform in the Democratic nomination campaign, rather than to the official version. Mr. Kirk made clear on Monday in a conference call with reporters that the U.S. government has no plans to reopen the North American free-trade agreement.
Austan Goolsbee, a respected economist who was an adviser to the Obama campaign, has thus been vindicated, as The Wall Street Journal pointed out yesterday. The same is true of any and all Canadian officials who were involved in the kerfuffle of March, 2008, the so-called NAFTA-gate, about an alleged leak of Mr. Obama’s views on NAFTA.
Obama Doesn’t Plan to Reopen Nafta Talks
The administration has no present plans to reopen negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement to add labor and environmental protections, as President Obama vowed to do during his campaign, the top trade official said on Monday.
[Ronald Kirk] said that Mr. Obama had conferred with the leaders of Mexico and Canada — the other parties to the trade agreement — and that “they are all of the mind we should look for opportunities to strengthen Nafta.”
21 April 2008
Bush, Harper, Calderon Defend Trade Amid Backlash
April 21 (Bloomberg) — President George W. Bush and the leaders of Canada and Mexico are using a summit meeting today in New Orleans to defend free trade and $930 billion in cross-border commerce against a political backlash. It won’t be easy.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Felipe Calderon have each made lowering trade barriers, cutting regulation and supporting the North American Free Trade Agreement a hallmark of their administrations and will make the case with Bush for those policies. (CBC) Bush reaffirms support for NAFTA
20-21 August 2007
Nafta talks tackle trade issues
Talks between the US, Mexico and Canada in Quebec have ended after two days of discussions on trade and security.
However the impact of Hurricane Dean dominated the event, with Mexican President Felipe Calderon offered help by his country’s northern neighbours.
Protest Meets Mega-NAFTA Summit
Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP)
From August 20-21, 2007, Stephen Harper welcomed his American idol George W. Bush and Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon to Montebello, Quebec to review the progress of the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP).
The SPP – which is being implemented without any public or parliamentary scrutiny – is about eliminating Canada’s ability to set its own independent regulatory standards, environmental protection measures, energy security, foreign, military, immigration and a frighteningly wide range of other policies. Read the report Behind Closed Doors: What they’re not telling us about the Security and Prosperity Partnership.
31 October 2006
Ron Paul: The NAFTA Superhighway
This superhighway would connect Mexico, the United States, and Canada, cutting a wide swath through the middle of Texas and up through Kansas City. Offshoots would connect the main artery to the west coast, Florida, and northeast. Proponents envision a ten-lane colossus the width of several football fields, with freight and rail lines, fiber-optic cable lines, and oil and natural gas pipelines running alongside.
The proposed highway is part of a broader plan advanced by a quasi-government organization called the “Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America,” or SPP [that] was first launched in 2005 by the heads of state of Canada, Mexico, and the United States at a summit in Waco.
Revisiting NAFTA: Still not working for North America’s workers
Despite its name, the primary purpose of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was not to facilitate trade among separate sovereign societies. Rather, it was to promote an integrated continental economy and establish the rules to govern it. NAFTA Summit 2006 (Cancun) Proceedings
We will always remember Stephen Harper’s unfortunate garb.23 March 2005
Mexico, the United States and Canada on March 23 announced a Security and Prosperity Partnership focusing on increased economic cooperation. The agreement aims at increasing harmonization of business, trade and security policies in an effort to bolster Nafta amid growing competition, especially from China and India.
Jan. 19 2005
U.S. considers hosting NAFTA summit: report
(CTV.ca) U.S. President George Bush’s renewed efforts to improve foreign relations in his second term may include hosting a meeting this year focused on improving trade ties with his two NAFTA partners — Mexico and Canada.
The three North American Free Trade Agreement members are considering holding a summit to coordinate business regulations and ease roadblocks to improve trade