Monday, March 3, 2014

NAFTA Partners Pushing North American Competitiveness Integration Agenda

By Dana Gabriel

The recent North American Leaders Summit in Mexico was seen as a perfect opportunity to try and kickstart the trilateral partnership. While there was no headline grabbers or major breakthroughs, the NAFTA partners still moved forward on some crucial issues that centered around North American competitiveness. They developed a shared set of priorities and established a roadmap for enhancing cooperation in areas such as trade, transportation, energy, as well as border facilitation. This includes creating a North American trusted traveler program which is part of ongoing efforts to establish a fully integrated continental security perimeter. During separate bilateral meetings, Canada and Mexico also took steps towards strengthening political, economic and security ties.

On February 18, in advance of the North American Leaders Summit, Prime Minister Stephen Harper held discussions with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto. After their meeting, they signed a number of deals designed to further deepen bilateral relations. This includes two agreements which promote new trade opportunities between Canada and Mexico. They also announced a declaration of intent to expand defence cooperation, “which demonstrates a continued commitment by both countries to work together on security issues facing North America.” It is scheduled to be officially signed in April and, “will outline the manner in which enhanced bilateral cooperation will take place in areas such as military training, and defence research and materiel.” The two leaders also renewed the Canada-Mexico Joint Action Plan that provides a framework for engagement on important issues such as fostering competitive and sustainable economies, protecting our citizens, enhancing people-to-people contacts, as well as projecting our partnership globally and regionally.