NAFTA – Three Amigos

Written by  //  June 15, 2017  //  Americas, Trade & Tariffs  //  1 Comment

NAFTA
Canada-U.S.
NAFTA Negotiations 2017/

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15 June
John Ivison: Mulroney urges Trudeau to ‘look around the corner of history’ for NAFTA talks
The former prime minister was a keynote speaker at the Canada 2020 conference in Ottawa, waxing lyrical on the theme of leadership — specifically, the distinction by American political scientist James MacGregor Burns between transactional and transformative leaders. …his thoughts on the challenges facing the incumbent of the office Mulroney used to hold, as he renegotiates the deal Mulroney struck, were insightful.
… the arrival of Donald Trump has exploded all the assumptions on which the Liberals came to power — his election is a disruptive force that could erode or empower Canada’s future competitive advantage. Change, when it comes, is likely to be of a different nature than anyone envisaged.
“The NAFTA renegotiation is absolutely crucial. It will be the challenge of this government, this parliament and this country. It’s one for the history books,” said Mulroney.
“We should keep our heads down, our mouths shut and deal with this at the negotiating table. Don’t take the bait. It’s at the bargaining table where we can make our comments, caustic or otherwise.”
Mulroney says Canada must be ready to say ‘no’ at NAFTA table
‘We’re not some pushover, little country …’
(iPolitics) Canada must be prepared to dig in its heels and push back against American demands during the upcoming renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, former prime minister Brian Mulroney said Friday.
“We’re not some pushover, little country,” Mulroney said during a speech at the annual Canada 2020 conference in Ottawa on Friday. “We have the strength to say no.”
Mulroney’s government negotiated the original NAFTA trade deal, which is expected to be renegotiated later this summer. He has been advising Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet on the file … (subscription)

11 May
Trump trade czar now in place; president says he wants ‘massive’ NAFTA changes
U.S. President Donald Trump says he’s ready to start a major renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, now that his trade czar has achieved his long-awaited confirmation by the U.S. Senate.
The upper chamber voted Thursday with a large bipartisan majority of 82-14 to approve Robert Lighthizer, giving the Trump administration its trade representative and allowing it to finally kickstart its NAFTA process.

So much for Trump’s conversion.
9 May
U.S. withdrawal from NAFTA is back on table: Wilbur Ross
The Trump administration may tear up the North American free-trade agreement and negotiate separate deals with Canada and Mexico, President Donald Trump’s point-man on the file says.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross also warned Tuesday that Washington will be “more aggressive” in fighting back against what it believes are unfair trade practices, such as by slapping tariffs on imports.
And he took aim at British Columbia Premier Christy Clark over her move to ban U.S. coal shipments from her province’s ports.
Mr. Ross laid out the administration’s trade agenda at a Council of the Americas conference at the U.S. State Department in Washington.

5 May
Canada weighing multiple trade actions against U.S. over softwood lumber dispute
Federal government considering retaliatory duties on goods from Oregon, ban on coal exports through B.C.
(CBC) The Canadian government is threatening multiple trade actions against the United States in retaliation for duties on softwood lumber, demanding a long-term deal without which several American industries could soon be targeted.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau launched the first salvo in a letter to B.C. Premier Christy Clark, informing her that he’s seriously considering her request for a ban on thermal coal exports and that it’s being explored by federal trade officials.
The second threat: possible duties against Oregon industries. That’s the home state of a Democratic senator, Ron Wyden, who has been a hardliner on the lumber dispute. The Canadian government has found several Oregon business-assistance programs it says may constitute illegal subsidies. It’s considering a process that could lead to retaliatory duties on imports from that state’s products, such as plywood, flooring, wood chips, packaging material and wine.

30 April
Mexico and Canada ‘in this together’ on NAFTA, amid Trump confusion
Mexico a target for Donald Trump’s trade complaints from the start, now Canada’s a bad neighbour too
… a bruising round of talks is coming, likely by late summer.
Mexican government sources tell CBC News one condition is non-negotiable for Pena Nieto — when Mexico sits down with the United States, Canada must be at the table.
Likewise, the Mexicans oppose bilateral talks between the U.S. and Canada, except on issues that don’t involve them, such as the dairy dispute.
Officials believe the two countries can hold out for a far better deal if they hang together. They’ve done it before: when the Americans and Japanese moved to disadvantage them with rules of origin changes for the automotive sector during Trans-Pacific Partnership trade talks in 2015.
Mexico, like Canada, can count on its skilled and experienced negotiators. Mexico has free trade deals with no fewer than 45 nations (although only one, the U.S., buys 80 per cent of its exports.)

26 April
(Quartz) Donald Trump pulled a 180 on NAFTA. Shortly after news leaked that Trump would end US participation in the North American Free Trade Agreement, the president announced that the White House would merely “renegotiate” its terms with Canada and Mexico. Cue a collective sigh of relief (paywall) from the Mexican peso and Canadian dollar.
Republicans tell Trump to hold up on NAFTA withdrawal
The Trump administration alarmed Republicans on Wednesday with its consideration of an executive order that could lead to the United States’ withdrawal from NAFTA — with some lawmakers warning that such a move would be a “disaster.”
A draft order has been submitted for final stages of review and could be unveiled late this week or early next, two White House officials told POLITICO. The effort, which still could change in coming days as more officials weigh in, would indicate the administration’s intent to withdraw from the sweeping Clinton-era pact by triggering the timeline set forth in the deal.
Peter Navarro, head of Trump’s National Trade Council, drafted the executive order in close cooperation with chief White House strategist Steve Bannon.

21 April
Let’s get going on NAFTA renegotiation, says Marc Garneau
The chair of the cabinet committee on Canada/U.S. relations says the sooner things get going on renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement the better.
Transport Minister Marc Garneau said the uncertainty caused by U.S. President Donald Trump’s anti–NAFTA rhetoric is hurting business on both sides of the border
“I hope we will get this under way fairly quickly, because in the United States and in Canada those who are interested in trading and investing are living with a certain amount of uncertainty,” Garneau told CBC Radio’s The House.
Can Trudeau talk Trump out of trade fight? Maybe he won’t have to
“The sooner we can discuss the specifics, the better.”
Garneau made the comments following Donald Trump’s switch to an aggressive tone towards Canada when it comes to trade.
Two days after openly criticizing Canada’s dairy industry during a speech in Wisconsin, Trump doubled down, and added more sectors to his list.

23 March
A dairy-for-lumber deal? Think-tank paper proposes Canada-U.S. swap for NAFTA
A free-market think tank suggests offering American negotiators in upcoming NAFTA talks more open trade in dairy, in exchange for more stable trade in softwood lumber to secure long-term peace on that perennially problematic file.
Squeezing some protectionism out of both industries would be good for consumers, spur economic productivity, and ultimately result in more successful businesses in both countries, says the report from the Montreal Economic Institute.
Supply management versus softwood lumber: It’s win-win
The system of quotas and tariffs imposed on dairy, eggs, and poultry blocks the entry of foreign products and costs Canadian household $258 a year on average, according to the OECD. Furthermore, if the United States went ahead with the imposition of a 25% tariff on Canadian softwood lumber, the average price of a new home on the American market would increase by $1,300. Just for single-family homes, these additional costs would total $1 billion.
“Trade barriers have always enriched a small minority of people at the expense of the vast majority,” says Mr. Moreau. “The disappearance of existing tariff barriers would be very beneficial for Canadian and American consumers alike

15 March
Trump’s Top Trade Adviser Quietly Seeks an Alliance With Mexico
(Bloomberg) President Donald Trump’s top trade adviser is quietly working to forge an alliance with Mexico, even as U.S. plans to build a border wall and threats to withdraw from Nafta continue to inflame tensions with its third-largest trading partner.
Peter Navarro, who as head of the White House National Trade Council will play a leading role in the effort to re-negotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, said in an interview the U.S. wants Mexico and Canada to unite in a regional manufacturing “powerhouse” that will keep out parts from other countries

6 March
NAFTA in play: What’s at stake for Canada-U.S. trade
(Globe & Mail) Ottawa is scrambling to ensure that trade with the United States is not seriously disrupted.
U.S. trade is vital to Canada, and rewriting NAFTA could affect huge swaths of the country’s economy and labour market, as well as global supply chains.
How the decades-old free-trade deal with the U.S. and Mexico will change as the Trump administration pursues protectionist policies is still unknown. U.S. President Donald Trump believes revamping NAFTA, and U.S.-Mexico trading rules in particular, would revive factory jobs and bring manufacturers back to the U.S.
While Mr. Trump has singled out Mexico as a target he has so far taken a softer approach with Canada, saying it is a “much less severe situation than what’s taken place on the southern border,” and telling Prime Minister Justin Trudeau late February that he will only be “tweaking” NAFTA’s terms with Canada.

28 February
Trump’s push for American-made could disrupt NAFTA supply chains and raise consumer prices
(LATimes) The 23-year-old pact is mind-numbingly complicated in its details. But what it boils down to is a system that allows the U.S., Canada and Mexico to trade hundreds of billions of dollars of goods with each other without having to pay duties.
On motor vehicles, there is a provision allowing duty-free imports and exports so long as at least 62.5% of the value of a vehicle originates in one or more of the three nations. Trump’s trade team is looking to raise that percentage significantly, on the theory that it will boost domestic production and jobs by preventing manufacturers from bringing in more components from Asia and other countries outside North America.
There’s no assurance, however, that a higher rule of origin threshold, say 75% or 80%, will prompt car makers to move work from existing locations or make new investments in the U.S. rather than in the other two countries, particularly Mexico.

25 February
(Quartz) Trump doesn’t get the real reason NAFTA is bad for America. Donald Trump’s promise to tear-up NAFTA and bring jobs back to the US won him the support of working class voters in the 2016 presidential election. The real problem with NAFTA is not that it outsourced US work to low-wage countries, Jeff Faux argues, but that it has shifted the benefits of expanding trade to investors and the costs to workers.
Trump is right to criticize NAFTA—but he’s totally wrong about why it’s bad for America
If NAFTA had been just a “free-trade” accord, it could have been written on a few pages. Instead, it was more than a thousand pages of complex rules that gave corporate investors—who dominated all sides of the bargaining table—privileged access to the US market for goods produced in Mexico where wages are low and regulations weak. The agreement also contained an array of extraordinary protections for investors, including secret dispute settlement panels with the power to override national labor and environmental regulations deemed to threaten profits. US employers’ ability to shift, and threaten to shift, production to Mexico severely undercut the bargaining power of their American workers.

21 February
Canada isn’t about to ‘throw Mexico under the bus,’ foreign ministers say
Ex-PM Brian Mulroney says abandoning third NAFTA trading partner for U.S. is ‘for losers’
(CBC) It might be too early to say where the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement will lead, but the foreign ministers of Canada and Mexico already agree they don’t want to sacrifice one relationship for another.
Chrystia Freeland and her Mexican colleague were asked Tuesday to comment on recent suggestions that in an effort to save its trading relationship with the United States, Canada might “throw Mexico under the bus.” The foreign ministers appeared together for a panel discussion at a Toronto event called “New Strategies for a New North America,” convened by the Canadian Council for the Americas.
Canadians have been assured that Trump’s dissatisfaction with NAFTA was aimed at Mexico, not its northern partner.
Would Canada be tempted to cut ties with Mexico to save its own economic interests?
“NAFTA is a three-country agreement,” Freeland said. “Were there to be any new negotiations, those would be three-way negotiations.”
Freeland’s remarks appear to contrast with Trump’s stated intentions to deal with countries one at a time to get the best deal for America.
Former prime minister Brian Mulroney also spoke at the Toronto event and said sacrificing Canada’s relationship with Mexico to please the Americans would be foolish. “Sometimes it will be bilateral, and sometimes it will be trilateral,” he said of discussions around how to improve the agreement first negotiated when he was in office. “I think at the end of the day, we end up with an updated and modernized NAFTA.”

14 February
Trade walls would hurt Canadian and U.S. economies, 2 new reports suggest
Thickening of the Canada-U.S. border would benefit Asia and Europe, not North America
(CBC) Both Canada and the United States will suffer economic harm if trade between the two countries becomes more expensive, suggests a pair of new reports released Tuesday.
“Hampered trade will mean job loss, decreased economic output, higher costs of production, lower returns for investors, fewer choices, and higher costs for consumers,” says one of the reports, which comes from Western University’s Ivey School of Business and the Lawrence National Centre for Policy and Management.
In a separate report also released Tuesday by the C.D. Howe Institute, its authors say Canada is heavily exposed to the ramifications of a potential U.S. border tax.
Trump has threatened to slap a border tax on products imported into the U.S. from Mexico, raising concerns that Canadian goods shipped to the U.S. could also be affected
If a BAT, or border adjustment tax, is brought in the United States on imported goods, Canada would not fare well, the C.D. Howe Institute said.
“The import component of a BAT would impact heavily on U.S. firms’ decisions on sourcing from Canada,” said the study’s authors, Dan Ciuriak and Jingliang Xiao. Canada would feel a “significant shift:” in U.S. firms switching to domestic sources.

24 January
Trump’s simplistic talk on NAFTA ignores the threat of disruption: Don Pittis
Love it or hate it, reopening the free trade deal would be wrenching for all 3 countries
(CBC) In the nearly 30 years since that first trade agreement, Canada and the United States have become grafted together so their supply chains flow back and forth across the border like blood vessels and nerves in a grafted limb. Severing that graft would be a serious wound.
There would be similar effects across the U.S.-Mexico border.
Many of Trump’s critics have said the loss of jobs in the U.S. has not been due to free trade. Instead, perhaps the real causes were things like inequality, failure of U.S. firms to reinvest their profits and the rise of job-killing technology.
If so, disrupting the three North American economies with a long and unnecessary clash over trade will only make things worse for everyone.

2016

9 November
Ottawa offers to renegotiate NAFTA in effort to warm ties with Trump
The federal government has offered to renegotiate the North American free-trade agreement, a gesture of goodwill to Donald Trump as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged to work “very closely” with the incoming president to foster greater continental prosperity.
Mr. Trump campaigned on upgrading the 1994 trade pact during the election and vowed to tear up the agreement if the U.S. isn’t able to get a better deal from Canada and Mexico.
NAFTA Could Be Replaced By U.S.-Canada Deal Under Trump: CIBC
(HuffPost) And while that would put a huge question mark over Mexico’s future, it could actually be partly good news for Canada, economists Avery Shenfeld and Royce Mendes wrote in a client note Wednesday morning.
“Canada and the U.S. could revert to a bilateral free trade arrangement that excludes Mexico,” they wrote, referring to the U.S.-Canada trade agreement that existed before NAFTA was ratified in 1994.
“That might help Canada reap market share stateside, but there are also risks that protectionist sentiments could extend to restrictions on some Canadian shipments to the U.S., given the political tide in that direction.”
They noted that Trump is largely concerned about competition from “low cost producers like China and Mexico,” giving Canada an opening to maintain free trade with the U.S. if Trump goes ahead with his protectionist agenda.
Indeed, Canada could benefit in certain ways from a possible departure of Mexico from NAFTA. Mexico recently overtook Canada as the largest exporter of cars to the U.S. It has seen much more auto industry investment than Canada in recent years. A deal between Canada and the U.S. alone could help turn that tide.
But Trump’s protectionist agenda is by no means a certainty, the CIBC economists noted.
“Congress and his advisors could try to water down Trump’s protectionist plans,” they wrote, though noting that “the U.S. constitution gives [Trump] the power to unilaterally undo existing trade agreements.”
18 August
Why Critics Of Free Trade Are Talking China, Not NAFTA
(FiveThirtyEight) For many years, the trade debate was really just a debate about the North American Free Trade Agreement. The 1993 trade deal has long been a lightening rod for political criticism: From Ross Perot’s warning in 1992 that NAFTA would create a “giant sucking sound” of U.S. jobs fleeing south of the border, to then Sen. Barack Obama campaigning on renegotiating NAFTA ahead of the 2008 presidential election. When the Pew Research Center polled Americans in 2010, it found most had a favorable opinion of trade — including a near even split regarding trade with China — but specific trade deals such as NAFTA were unpopular.
Criticism of NAFTA hasn’t disappeared. Sanders called the trade deal “disastrous” on the campaign trail this year, and in his Detroit speech, Trump warned that a vote for Clinton “is a vote for NAFTA.” Labor-affiliated economists still maintain that NAFTA encouraged multinational companies to move manufacturing jobs to Mexico, thus lowering the wages of U.S workers.
But a majority of economists now argue that NAFTA’s effect on the U.S. economy and its workers was relatively modest. “NAFTA has not been a big deal,” said David Autor, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has studied the impact of trade. According to one estimate from economists John McLaren and Shushanik Hakobyan, NAFTA slowed wage growth for the subset of workers in industries exposed to Mexican imports; but they point to other estimates that NAFTA had a small positive impact on the incomes of U.S. workers as a whole.
8 August
Trump renews threat to leave NAFTA in speech on economy
(Globe & Mail) He acknowledged “isolation is not an option” for the United States, but spoke even more aggressively about resuming bargaining on all aspects of the North American free-trade agreement, which has been in force for more than two decades.
“A total renegotiation,” is what Mr. Trump told the Detroit Economic Club he wanted from NAFTA. “If we don’t get a better deal, we will walk away.”
The Trump pledge, nevertheless, is a potential danger for Canada, which has enjoyed a preferential economic relationship with its most important trading partner since late in the presidency of Ronald Reagan. Canada and the United States exchange more than $2.4-billion in goods and services each day, and Canada is the top export destination for 35 U.S. states. (See map)

AFTER NAFTA
The United States hasn’t walked away from a trade agreement in 150 years, but that could change if Donald Trump takes up residence in the White House. The most anti-trade U.S. presidential candidate in decades, he’s called NAFTA ‘a disaster’ and threatened to pull out of the historic trade pact. Can he do it? And if he does, how badly would Canada’s economy be hurt?
No matter that the United States hasn’t walked away from a trade agreement in 150 years. Mr. Trump is the most anti-trade U.S. presidential candidate in decades. He has a narrow path to potential victory if he can win a number of key states – including Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan, where globalization and free trade are hot, contentious issues.

26 July
One of the country’s labor leaders says Clinton told him that she would renegotiate NAFTA
(Reuters) – United Auto Workers President Dennis Williams said on Tuesday that presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has assured him she would renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement if she is elected president.
29 June
Three Amigos 2016
Three Amigos say relations ‘strong’ amid rising protectionism, anti-immigrant sentiment
Orlando mass shooting, Istanbul terror attack also on the North American leaders’ agenda
(CBC) The leaders of Canada, the U.S. and Mexico put forward a united front against growing concerns over the rise of protectionism and anti-immigrant sentiment at home and abroad as they concluded their North American Leaders Summit.
“The conversations were friendly, but also frank, and I’m reassured by the progress we have been able to make today,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at a joint press conference in Ottawa.
Trudeau said he had friendly but “frank” talks with U.S. President Barack Obama and Enrique Pena Nieto, as they agreed to align their respective climate and energy policies and work on resolving border issues at the so-called Three Amigos gathering.
“Today we turned that resolve into action, with the negotiation of an ambitious and enduring North American Climate, Clean Energy and Environment Partnership,” Trudeau said at a joint press conference Wednesday.
U.S., Mexico to source 50% of electricity from clean energy by 2025
“This partnership will see our countries stand side-by-side as we work toward the common goal of a North America that is competitive, that encourages clean growth, and that protects our shared environment now, and for generations to come.”
The leaders each addressed the anti-trade rhetoric that has been a central theme to both the U.S. presidential primary race and the referendum campaign in Britain over that country’s decision to leave the EU.
“We have an integrated economy already, the question is under what terms are we going to shape that economy,” Obama told reporters.
“Us trying to abandon the field and pull up the drawbridge is going to be bad for us,” Obama added.
Pena Nieto spoke about the importance of working as a trading block and used the example of how the three countries came together to help protect the Monarch butterfly. He noted the butterfly’s threatened nesting ground in Mexico has increased almost 10-fold over a single year and said that success was symbolic of the North American relationship.
28 June
Despite the headline, there is much more about the NAFTA meeting than the referendum on electoral reform.
The Brexit effect: Referendum chill? Trudeau may be off the hook on an electoral reform referendum
(iPolitics) the developments in Europe add a whole other layer of interesting to this week’s “Three Amigos” summit in Ottawa, between Trudeau, Barack Obama and Mexican President Enrique Peno Nieta.
The gathering was already going to be notable, with expected agreements on climate change as well as the end to the visa requirement for Mexico Trudeau announced Tuesday. On top of that, Obama will be addressing Parliament on Wednesday — something that likely wouldn’t have happened if Stephen Harper were still prime minister. (Actually, this gathering probably wouldn’t have even been taking place if Harper was still in charge).
But in global terms, the Three Amigos summit will now stand as a full-on display of continental trade and integration — the opposite of what 52 per cent of British voters chose in last Thursday’s referendum.
‘I don’t mean just a little bit better’: Donald Trump threatens to leave NAFTA if elected
(Business Insider) Donald Trump on Tuesday said that, if he is elected president, then one of the first actions he will take will be to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
27 June
Brexit prompts new agenda for North American Leaders’ Summit
(Globe & Mail) The three leaders of North America will trumpet the benefits of liberalized free trade and the necessity of countries to work in unison when they gather in Ottawa for a summit that had been set up largely to focus on the environment but has been turned upside down by the stunning British vote to exit the European Union.
Senior Canadian and Mexican officials told The Globe and Mail last week that there would be little focus on free trade at the summit to avoid causing any political damage to Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, who is battling anti-free trade Republican contender Donald Trump in the U.S. presidential election.
But the shocking British vote to secede from the EU has forced the leaders of Canada, the United States and Mexico to reassess the game plan for Wednesday’s North American Leaders’ Summit, to be held at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, officials say.
Adios, Three Amigos: Obama heads to last summit with Canada, Mexico
President Barack Obama will meet with leaders of Canada and Mexico on Wednesday for his final “Three Amigos” summit, a meeting that may signal how keen the North American partners are to tout trade at a time of rising protectionist sentiment.
The Ottawa summit comes on the heels of Britain voting to leave the European Union after more than 40 years. It also falls ahead of a U.S. presidential election on Nov. 8 where presumptive Republican candidate Donald Trump has made stagnant wages and U.S. manufacturing job losses focal points of his insurgent campaign.
The Brexit vote is bound to be an important theme for Obama’s meetings with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Canada had negotiated a trade deal with the EU that is slated to take effect next year. The Brexit could delay ratification, and hurt Canada’s commodity-driven economy.
The referendum results are also a setback to talks on a U.S.-EU trade deal. Mexico, which has a trade deal with the EU, has already prepared a draft proposal for one with the United Kingdom.
12 March
Trudeau says Canada-U.S. climate strategy should include Mexico
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau capped off a high-profile official visit to the United States by pledging to forge a unified North American climate strategy to “make a significant dent” in global warming. …
“There is no question that the continent – Mexico, the U.S. and Canada – together working on energy issues, on addressing environmental concerns, figuring out how to get things done here will make a significant dent in global emissions,” he told students at American University. “We can make a tremendous impact. In fact, we have to if we are going to keep warming to under two degrees.”
Canada will play host to the next North American Leaders’ Summit, this summer, and a senior government official said Mr. Trudeau will make climate change a key focus of the talks along with boosting continental trade.
To help in those discussions, Canada will remove visa restrictions for Mexicans, the official said, who added the Prime Minister believes Canada can be a “model” for Mexico to follow in working on climate issues with the United States.
28 January
North American ministers meet in Quebec as TPP casts shadow
North America’s three foreign ministers will be all smiles when they meet Friday to discuss the upcoming Canadian-hosted leaders’ summit, but Canada and Mexico may bring some lingering resentment towards their American amigo on trade.
Mexico’s former ambassador to Canada said the United States jeopardized relations with its two continental neighbours when it struck a side deal with Japan on trade in automobiles last summer during the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations.
Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion said Thursday he was looking forward to hosting Friday’s meeting in Quebec City with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Mexican Foreign Minister Claudia Ruiz Massieu.
Dion’s office said they would hold a day of talks on the environment and clean energy co-operation, as well as security issues. The meeting will set the stage for the full-fledged Three Amigos leaders’ summit, featuring Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, U.S. President Barack Obama and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, somewhere in Canada later this spring.
A report by the Centre for International Governance Innovation released Thursday called for greater bilateral co-operation between Mexico and Canada as the key towards building greater prosperity across the North America.
22 January
Missing from Trudeau agenda? A North American summit
By: Jennifer Jeffs, Past President of the Canadian International Council (CIC)
(Open Canada) If the Canadian government is pushing for renewed trilateralism, a leaders’ summit should follow the state dinner in Washington in early March.
As Canadian North America enthusiasts eagerly anticipate the first state dinner at the White House for a Canadian prime minister in 18 years, they should be also looking forward to the much overdue North American Leaders’ Summit that was due to take place in 2015, but was repeatedly delayed until it was bounced off the agenda by our national election.
To date, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appears to be off to a strong start in his bilateral relations with both the Mexican and United States presidents, from vying for hottest leader status on Twitter during the recent meetings that included Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, to friendly warnings from U.S. President Barack Obama of the increase in grey hair that leadership brings.
The Canadian prime minister appears to enjoy cordial relations with both his North American counterparts. Certainly we will inevitably see trade and other scuffles in the future, but all three countries are clearly equipped with superior diplomatic capacity that will smooth over any unavoidable blips in the three bilateral relationships.
However, the leaders’ summit that could—and should—follow the state dinner in Washington in early March will present an opportunity for Canada’s new government to push for significant progress on regional trilateralism as a strategy.

2015

31 January
North America’s foreign ministers meet in Boston (video)
John Baird met Saturday for discussions with U.S. and Mexican counterparts Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird applauds ‘truly historic’ U.S. rapprochement with Cuba [He] raised the issue during a news conference Saturday where he appeared alongside his counterparts from the U.S. and Mexico.
17 January
BURNEY AND HAMPSON: Six reasons the ‘Three Amigos’ summit died
Two recent studies have urged a “rejuvenation of the spirit of NAFTA” and enhanced continental co-operation across the board. The first, by former World Bank president Robert Zoellick and retired general David Petraeus for the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations sets out an ambitious agenda calling, among other things, for action to harness the immense energy potential of North America – a timely initiative for geopolitical as well as economic reasons – and specifically for approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. Their report also recommended structural changes aimed at giving the neighbourhood a higher profile with a senior level champion appointed to drive a more robust agenda in Washington.
The second study, issued by the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE), echoed a similar vision but skirted the most contentious issue in the bilateral relationship – Keystone.
15 January
Harper postpones Three Amigos summit amid chilly relations with U.S. and Mexico
The unexpected move allows Mr. Harper to avoid an awkward side-by-side news conference with Mr. Obama at a February summit that all three governments were expecting would be dominated by the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline – now at the top of the political agenda in Washington.
Mr. Harper’s government did not provide an explanation to either country, instead noting that they had never officially confirmed the date in February, sources said.
But planning was advanced for a late February summit, with the dates set aside on the always-packed calendars of the U.S. President and his Mexican counterpart.
5 January
The Renewed Push for Deeper North American Integration
(Global Research) The globalist plan to incrementally merge the U.S., Canada and Mexico into a North American Union has been ongoing for years. While at times, the agenda appears to have seemingly stalled, current efforts to expand the trilateral partnership show that it is alive and once again gaining steam. With NAFTA as the foundation, the renewed push for deeper North American integration continues on many different fronts.
The Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE), recently issued the report, Made in North America: a new agenda to sharpen our competitive edge. The CCCE is one of Canada’s most influential corporate lobby groups, with many of their proposals shaping the country’s domestic and foreign policy priorities. Throughout the years, they have pushed for deeper continental integration. With the 2015 North American Leaders Summit in mind, the CCCE offered a series of recommendations aimed at further expanding the trilateral relationship in areas such as border management, infrastructure, manufacturing, energy and regulatory cooperation.

2014

15 December
North American energy ministers agree to ‘to-do list’ on continental strategy
Meeting for the first time in seven years, North America’s three energy ministers admitted Monday much more needs to be done if the bold vision of an integrated continental energy market is to become a reality.
Greg Rickford, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, called the meeting in Washington, D.C., “a crucial start,” and said the three came up with a “to-do list as opposed to a wish list,” as a result of direction from the last so-called Three Amigos summit, when the leaders of Canada, Mexico and the United States gathered in February in Mexico.
10 December
Colin Robertson: As oil prices continue to slide, what North America really needs is a common energy strategy
4 December
Made in North America: a new agenda to sharpen our competitive edge
(Canadian Council of Chief Executives) A closer economic relationship among the three sovereign nations of North America – Canada, Mexico and the United States – is a powerful and compelling idea. The Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement and its successor, the North American Free Trade Agreement, laid the foundations of a continent-wide trade and investment zone.
These agreements have transformed North American commerce. Progress has been most evident in the growth of existing supply chains, the creation of many new ones, and expanded cross-border investment and infrastructure. The movement of goods, services and people between the U.S., Canada and Mexico has surged.
Even so, there remain many gaps in the mechanisms needed to create a vibrant and competitive cross-border community. The information technology revolution and corresponding shifts in economic activity have opened additional gaps in our pre-internet-era commercial framework. These shortcomings leave North America vulnerable to intensifying competition from the new powerhouses of Asia and the recovering European economies.
It is time for the three countries to come together in a fresh drive to sharpen North America’s international competitiveness.
19 November
U.S. urged to look to Canada and Mexico amid energy revolution
(Globe & Mail) Two American policy heavyweights think this is a moment when the United States can be persuaded to turn its focus to its North American neighbours, such as Canada.
Retired general David Petraeus and former World Bank president Robert Zoellick, who led a task force on the continent for the Council on Foreign Relations, argue that a North American energy revolution and major reforms in Mexico mean U.S. leaders should now have a political interest in embracing their neighbours.
October 2014
North America — Time for a New Focus
(Council on Foreign Relations) A new CFR-sponsored Independent Task Force report, North America: Time for a New Focus, asserts that elevating and prioritizing the U.S.-Canada-Mexico relationship offers the best opportunity for strengthening the United States and its place in the world.
“It is time to put North America at the forefront of U.S. policy,” the report says. “The development and implementation of a strategy for U.S. economic, energy, security, environmental, and societal cooperation with its two neighbors can strengthen the United States at home and enhance its influence abroad.”
Chaired by David H. Petraeus, retired U.S. Army general and chairman of the KKR Global Institute, and Robert B. Zoellick, former president of the World Bank Group and chairman of Goldman Sachs’s International Advisors, the Task Force is composed of a diverse and distinguished group of experts that includes former government officials, scholars, and others. The project is directed by CFR Senior Fellow for Latin America Studies Shannon K. O’Neil.
The Task Force proposes a comprehensive set of recommendations for deepening North American integration, concentrating on four pivotal areas—energy, economic competitiveness, security, and community.
20 February
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
Monarch butterflyNorth 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.
19 February
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.
“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.
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
17 February
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.
15 February
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.
14 February
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.”
12 February
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.
24 January
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.
17 January
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.

NAFTA and the Future of Canada, Mexico and the United StatesNAFTA on globe

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

2013

June 17

North American Solutions

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 togethersimply 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.
17 April

Final Push for a Canada-EU CETA and the Coming NAFTA-EU Free Trade Zone
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
7 August
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.
6 August
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.
24 June
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.
25 April
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.
21 April
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.
28 September
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

One Comment on "NAFTA – Three Amigos"

  1. Guy Stanley February 13, 2014 at 4:43 pm · Reply

    Re Let’s become amigos again
    Tom is an old friend and a polished advocate for free trade, especially within North America. The most important paragraph in his article, I think, must be the brief description of the Council’s “ambitious agenda”.” In fact, if one subtracts the impact of DHS at the border and in contracting on certain defence-related projects, and overlook some relatively minor regulation differences among states and provinces in the three countries, a great deal of that agenda has already been accomplished through adaptation to shifting pressures of the marketplace. The major remaining barriers are barriers to foreign investment in transportation, telecommunications and some other infrastructure sectors. These are hanging by a thread and preventing the rationalization of these sectors at an appropriate continental scale. They are thus unlikely to persist much longer. But their resolution also raises issues of standards of service and competition — issues that are generally not settled by trade negotiations. The problem with the Council”s agenda, in other words, is not in its aims, but in its chosen instrument–trade talks.
    The argument for free trade is based on its promotion of trade based on comparative advantage (CA) – each country’s strengths . CA is a formula for respecting differences and building on complementarities. Standardization of regulations –if too enthusiastically applied — can undermine the ability of local jurisdictions to develop strengths even when doing so is trade enhancing. The current furore over the use of investor protection rules to dis-empower local jurisdictions is about this. Moving to a customs union does not solve the problem unless it creates a binding adjudication process. A preliminary version of such a process that nevertheless respected national sovereignty was the NAFTA panel process. But this never acquired full American buy-in and ultimately failed during the last softwood lumber dispute. The EU gets around this with a complicated system or political representation atop a central bureaucracy and a flexible directive-implementation process. It is far too elaborate for North America. At the heart of this whole dilemma is actually a dramatic change in business organization since the days of Ricardo (1840s).– the creation of multinational enterprises that use foreign investment to accumulate and organize lines of business globally. It looks like Ricardian arms-length trade. But it’s really just big industrial companies moving material and processes around in search of profit. They don’t care much about CA – they much prefer the administrative efficiencies of harmonized standards–uniformity over particulars. .The tension between CA driven trade and pressures for uniformity is a major threat to the WTO global trade regime and one reason why world trade is breaking up into regional blocs of similar economies. It is ironic, but the Canada-US FTA precursor to NAFTA was negotiated partly in order to get the EU to sign off on the WTO, a deal based mainly on global CA. Now NAFTA deepening is proposed as a method for imposing greater uniformity on the trade agenda, to the detriment of the WTO and the hope it offered for enhanced trade as a lever to economic improvement in the developing world. GS

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