North America

Time for a New Focus

Task Force Report
Analysis and policy prescriptions of major foreign policy issues facing the United States, developed through private deliberations among a diverse and distinguished group of experts.

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.

David H. Petraeus

KKR Global Institute

Robert B. Zoellick

Goldman Sachs & Co.

Shannon K. O'Neil
Shannon K. O'Neil

Vice President, Deputy Director of Studies, and Nelson and David Rockefeller Senior Fellow for Latin America Studies

Christopher M. Tuttle
Christopher M. Tuttle

Senior Fellow and Secretary of the Corporation

"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."

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Defense and Security

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. These include:

Capitalizing on North America's promising energy outlook. The North American countries need a regional energy strategy to strengthen the continent's energy infrastructure, expand energy exports, support Mexico's historic reforms, improve safety, and encourage harmonized policies to promote energy conservation and reduce carbon emissions.

"For economic, environmental, and diplomatic reasons, the Task Force recommends that the U.S. government encourage increased energy connections with Canada and Mexico. The U.S. government should approve additional pipeline capacity, including the Keystone XL pipeline," the report says. "The Task Force also proposes that the United States end restrictions on energy exports, including oil and LNG (liquefied natural gas)."

Bolstering economic competitiveness through the freer movement of goods and services across borders. Upgrading infrastructure and policies across borders would interconnect national economies securely and efficiently. Recognizing trilateral economic interests, the United States should also include Canada and Mexico in its negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and other free trade agreements.

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Defense and Security

"The United States' ability to compete in a dynamic and competitive world economy would be strengthened by enhanced economic ties with Canada and Mexico," the report explains. "The Task Force recommends working toward the free and unimpeded movement of goods and services across North America's common borders."

Strengthening security through a unified continental strategy and "continuous border innovation." While working toward the goal of a unified security strategy for North America, the United States and Canada should support Mexican efforts to strengthen the democratic rule of law, dismantle criminal networks, contribute to the development of resilient and cohesive communities, and reduce arms smuggling and drug consumption.

"The United States should shift from border-centric security toward a strategy of combining perimeter protection with security in depth through the use of intelligence, risk assessment, shared capabilities, and joint actions throughout the region," the report says.

Fostering a North American community through comprehensive immigration reform, workforce development, and the creation of a mobility accord to facilitate the movement of workers. The U.S. Congress should pass comprehensive immigration reforms. To better aid the movement of North American workers, the three countries should also create a North American Mobility Accord, expand visas for skilled workers, streamline recognition of professional credentials, and develop a regional educational innovation strategy.

"The Task Force strongly recommends the passage of comprehensive federal immigration reform that secures U.S. borders, prevents illegal entry, provides visas on the basis of economic need, invites talented and skilled people to settle in the United States, and offers a pathway to legalization for undocumented immigrants now in the United States," the report says.

The report of the Independent Task Force on Noncommunicable Diseases, chaired by Mitchell E. Daniels and Thomas E. Donilon, will be released later this fall. Previous Independent Task Force reports have covered the open Internet, U.S.-Turkey relations, U.S. education reform and national security, and other relevant issues.

Note: This report is available in French and Spanish.

Professors: To request an exam copy, contact [email protected]. Please include your university and course name.

Bookstores: To order bulk copies, please contact Ingram. Visit, call 800.234.6737, or email [email protected]. ISBN: 978-0-87609-599-7

Task Force Members

Bernard W. Aronson, ACON Investments

Jodi Hanson Bond, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Robert C. Bonner, Sentinel HS Group, LLC

Jason Eric Bordoff, Columbia University

Timothy P. Daly, Western Union

Jorge I. Domínguez, Harvard University

Stephen E. Flynn, Northeastern University

Gordon D. Giffin, McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP

Neal R. Goins, Exxon Mobil Corporation

Kenneth I. Juster, Warburg Pincus LLC

Marie-Josée Kravis, Hudson Institute

Jane Holl Lute, Council on CyberSecurity

Jason Marczak, Atlantic Council

Diana Natalicio, University of Texas at El Paso

Shannon K. O'Neil, Council on Foreign Relations

Maria Otero, Independent Consulting

James W. Owens, Caterpillar Inc.

David H. Petraeus, KKR Global Institute

Adrean Scheid Rothkopf, Millicom

Clifford M. Sobel, Valor Capital Group

James S. Taylor, Vianovo

Robert B. Zoellick, Goldman Sachs & Co.

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