Task Force Urges Measures to Strengthen North American Competitiveness, Expand Trade, Ensure Border Security

Task Force Urges Measures to Strengthen North American Competitiveness, Expand Trade, Ensure Border Security

May 17, 2005 1:49 pm (EST)

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May 17, 2005--North America is vulnerable on several fronts: the region faces terrorist and criminal security threats, increased economic competition from abroad, and uneven economic development at home. In response to these challenges, a trinational, Independent Task Force on the Future of North America has developed a roadmap to promote North American security and advance the well-being of citizens of all three countries.

When the leaders of Canada, Mexico, and the United States met in Texas recently they underscored the deep ties and shared principles of the three countries. The Council-sponsored Task Force applauds the announced "Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America," but proposes a more ambitious vision of a new community by 2010 and specific recommendations on how to achieve it.

Pointing to increased competition from the European Union and rising economic powers such as India and China in the eleven years since NAFTA took effect, co-chair Pedro C. Aspe, former Finance Minister of Mexico, said, "We need a vision for North America to address the new challenges." The Task Force establishes a blueprint for a powerhouse North American trading area that allows for the seamless movement of goods, increased labor mobility, and energy security.

"We are asking the leaders of the United States, Mexico, and Canada to be bold and adopt a vision of the future that is bigger than, and beyond, the immediate problems of the present," said co-chair John P. Manley, Former Canadian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance. "They could be the architects of a new community of North America, not mere custodians of the status quo."

At a time of political transition in Canada and Mexico, the Task Force proposes new ideas to cope with continental challenges that should be the focus of debate in those two countries as well as the United States. To ensure a free, secure, just, and prosperous North America, the Task Force proposes a number of specific measures:

Make North America safer:

  • Establish a common security perimeter by 2010.
  • Develop a North American Border Pass with biometric identifiers.
  • Develop a unified border action plan and expand border customs facilities.

Create a single economic space:

  • Adopt a common external tariff.
  • Allow for the seamless movement of goods within North America.
  • Move to full labor mobility between Canada and the U.S.
  • Develop a North American energy strategy that gives greater emphasis to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases -- a regional alternative to Kyoto.
  • Review those sectors of NAFTA that were excluded.
  • Develop and implement a North American regulatory plan that would include "open skies and open roads" and a unified approach for protecting consumers on food, health, and the environment.
  • Expand temporary worker programs and create a "North American preference" for immigration for citizens of North America.

Spread benefits more evenly:

  • Establish a North American Investment Fund to build infrastructure to connect Mexico’s poorer regions in the south to the market to the north.
  • Restructure and reform Mexico’s public finances.
  • Fully develop Mexican energy resources to make greater use of international technology and capital.

Institutionalize the partnership:

  • Establish a permanent tribunal for trade and investment disputes.
  • Convene an annual North American summit meeting.
  • Establish a Tri-national Competition Commission to develop a common approach to trade remedies.
  • Expand scholarships to study in the three countries and develop a network of Centers for North American Studies.

Co-chair William F. Weld, former Governor of Massachusetts and U.S. Assistant Attorney General, said, "We are three liberal democracies; we are adjacent; we are already intertwined economically; we have a great deal in common historically; culturally, we have a lot to learn from one another."

Organized in association with the Consejo Mexicano de Asuntos Internacionales and the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, the Task Force includes prominent former officials, businessmen, and academic experts from all three countries. A Chairmen’s Statement was released in March in advance of the trinational summit; the full report represents the consensus of the entire Task Force membership and leadership.

Chief Executive of the Canadian Council of Chief ExecutivesThomas d’Aquino, President of the Consejo Mexicano de Asuntos Internacionales Andrés Rozental, and Director of the Center for North American Studies at American University Robert A. Pastor serve as vice chairs.Chappell H. Lawson, Associate Professor of political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is director.

Building a North American Community: Report of the Independent Task Force on the Future of North America is available on the Council website.

Founded in 1921, theCouncil on Foreign Relations is an independent, national membership organization and a nonpartisan center for scholars dedicated to producing and disseminating ideas so that individual and corporate members, as well as policymakers, journalists, students, and interested citizens in the United States and other countries, can better understand the world and the foreign policy choices facing the United States and other governments.

The Mexican Council on Foreign Relations(COMEXI) is the only multi-disciplinary organization committed to fostering sophisticated, broadly inclusive political discourse and analysis on the nature of Mexico’s participation in the international arena and the relative influence of Mexico’s increasingly global orientation on domestic priorities. The Council is an independent, non-profit, pluralistic forum, with no government or institutional ties that is financed exclusively by membership dues and corporate support. The main objectives of COMEXI are to provide information and analysis of interest to our associates, as well as to create a solid institutional framework for the exchange of ideas concerning pressing world issues that affect our country.

Founded in 1976, the Canadian Council of Chief Executives is Canada’s premier business association, with an outstanding record of achievement in matching entrepreneurial initiative with sound public policy choices. A not-for-profit, non-partisan organization composed of the chief executives of 150 leading Canadian enterprises, the CCCE was the Canadian private sector leader in the development and promotion of the Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement during the 1980s and of the subsequent trilateral North American Free Trade Agreement.

Members of the Independent Task Force on North America

Minister Pedro Aspe
(Mexican co-chair)


Mr. Thomas S. Axworthy
Queen’s University

Ms. Heidi S. Cruz
Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc.

Mr. Nelson W. Cunningham
Kissinger McLarty Associates

Mr. Thomas P. d’Aquino
(Canadian co-vice chair)

Canadian Council of Chief Executives

Mr. Alfonso de Angoitia
Grupo Televisa, S.A.

Dr. Luis de La Calle Pardo
De la Calle, Madrazo, Mancera, S.C.

Professor Wendy K. Dobson
University of Toronto

Dr. Robert A. Pastor (U.S. co-vice chair)
American University

Mr. Andrés Rozental
(Mexican co-vice chair)

Consejo Mexicano de Asuntos Internacionales

Dr. Richard A. Falkenrath
The Brookings Institution

Dr. Rafael Fernandez de Castro
Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México

Mr. Ramón Alberto Garza

The Honorable Gordon D. Giffin
McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP

Mr. Allan Gotlieb
Donner Canadian Foundation

Mr. Michael Hart
Norman Paterson School of International Affairs

Mr. Carlos Heredia
Consejo Mexicano de Asuntos Internacionales

The Honorable Carla A. Hills
Hills & Company

Dr. Gary C. Hufbauer
Institute for International Economics

Dr. Luis Rubio

Dr. Jeffrey J. Schott
Institute for International Economics

Mr. Pierre Marc Johnson
Heenan Blaikie

The Honorable James R. Jones
Manatt Jones Global Strategies

Dr. Chappell H. Lawson (Task Force Director)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The Honourable John P. Manley (Canadian co-chair)
McCarthy Tetrault

Mr. David McD. Mann
Cox Hanson O’Reilly Matheson

Ms. Doris M. Meissner
Migration Policy Institute

The Honorable Thomas M.T. Niles
Institute for International Economics

The Honorable William F. Weld (U.S. co-chair)
Leeds Weld & Co.

Mr. Raul H. Yzaguirre
Arizona State University

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