North American Economic and Security Community
Should the United States, Canada and Mexico come together to form a North American Economic and Security Community?
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The three countries of North America should form an Economic and Security Community to meet shared t...
The three countries of North America should form an Economic and Security Community to meet shared threats to their wellbeing. Since 9/11 many plots have been launched against western countries, including several against the USA. At least one of these involved a terrorist trying to enter the United States from Canada, and the Mexican border is also thought to be a likely entry point for those who wish the USA harm. By sharing intelligence, harmonising law enforcement methods and working together to strengthen a North American outer security perimeter, the three countries can do more to keep their citizens safe than any one of them could operating alone. To further improve security, the scope of the North American Aerial Defence Command could also be extended to all the skies in the northern Western hemisphere, and developed to track shipping as well.
None of the three countries should put its sovereignty and identity at risk by merging into a North American Community. Elites in each country are using security as an excuse for introducing integration over the heads of their populations. It is quite possible to keep sovereignty and reject this proposed Community, while still improving security through bilateral and trilateral agreements, e.g. on intelligence sharing. As for a common security perimeter, that means each government would be losing control of its own borders. US citizens will ask whether they trust the honesty and efficiency of Mexican officials enough to want to hand over to them the responsibility for keeping out terrorists and drug smugglers. Canadian and Mexican citizens may wonder why they should pay for hugely increased outer border security measures, when any threat is clearly directed against the United States rather than at them directly.
A North American community could help all three nations meet challenges to their economic competitiv...
A North American community could help all three nations meet challenges to their economic competitiveness in a globalised 21st century. The three countries are already each other’s biggest trading partners, but varying tariffs and unnecessarily complicated regulations needlessly raise the costs of trading with each other. By adopting a common external tariff (as the European Union does) internal trade can be promoted while American agriculture and industry is protected from unfair competition from elsewhere. Agreeing on common regulations (e.g. on packaging, environmental standards, pharmaceutical licensing, etc.) would allow a lot of costs to be reduced to mutual benefit.
From the point of view of Canadian and Mexican companies and government bodies, a common economic area would be bad news. The size of the US population and economy compared to theirs would mean that any common regulations would force them to accept US standards. This will impose new costs on their companies which US ones will not have to pay, and mean that accountability and control of regulations will have been taken away from their elected representatives. All three countries will also lose in the long term if they try to turn their backs on the rest of the world. Regional trading agreements are no substitute for progress in World Trade talks aimed at removing the barriers to free trade worldwide - something which will bring prosperity to all nations if it can be agreed.
A North American community would be able to promote broad-based development across all three countri...
A North American community would be able to promote broad-based development across all three countries, tying their economies together more closely and raising prosperity for all. For example a North American investment fund could help Mexico to link its poorer regions more closely to markets further north, so as to spread prosperity more widely and reduce the dangers of political instability, illegal immigration, criminality, etc.
Such development projects would be hugely expensive - in effect US taxpayers are being asked to hand over vast sums of money to Mexico to aid its development. Not only will this be resisted, it is also unnecessary - the Mexican economy needs deregulation, privatization and de-politicisation, all of which can best be achieved by domestic reform initiatives. Indeed, reform in Mexico is likely to be held back by the arrival of vast amount of “Community development aid”.\
From the point of view of Canada, why would they want to abandon their successful economic and social model for the USA’s ruthless capitalism and heartless welfare policies? And why would US citizens want to integrate with countries they see variously as corrupt, poverty-stricken, socialist and addicted to government interference?
A North American Community would create important institutions to promote good relations between all...
A North American Community would create important institutions to promote good relations between all three members. At present their leaders have only irregular (almost always bilateral) meetings with patchy outcomes, and the members of their legislatures meet hardly at all. More regular three-way discussions would do much to improve political understanding and to drive the development of North America for the benefit of all 400 million or so of its people. A permanent Advisory Council and secretariat would allow decisions made at these tri-national summits to be truly put into effect, rather than forgotten or allowed to drift. More broad-based initiatives could also do much to improve understanding between the peoples of the three countries - for example, more educational scholarships and exchanges, and the development of university courses in North American Studies.
This kind of institution-building is typical of the ambitions of the elites who wish to give away popular sovereignty. Like the United Nations and the European Union, a North American Community would quickly create a vast unaccountable bureaucracy with its own agenda. National elections would no longer be able to affect policies and national leaders would increasingly lose power to the unelected elites running the Community. Revealingly, the Council for Foreign Relations report promoting a North American Community makes no mention of asking the people whether they want such a merger - its agenda is clearly anti-democratic. Nor is there any guarantee that such institutions would actually improve relations - Britain and France are still constantly in disagreement over in the EU.
A strong shared North American security perimeter (see point 1) would allow much freer movement for ...
A strong shared North American security perimeter (see point 1) would allow much freer movement for people and goods within North America. Border restrictions in the wake of 9/11 showed how interdependent the three countries already are by causing a great deal of personal inconvenience and real economic harm. Creating a joint border pass, with biometric indicators would reduce the need for time-consuming physical checks at crossing-points, while enhancing security. Greater personal freedom would result, a good in itself, and it would also reduce the costs of trade and increase the efficiency of the labour market.
From the point of view of ordinary US citizens, this plan would be a disaster. Already illegal immigrants (mostly Mexican) are forcing down the wages of US citizens. The Council for Foreign Relations’ plan calls for “a seamless North American market” and “the extension of full labour mobility to Mexico” - meaning that employers would openly be able to recruit Mexican workers at a fraction of the cost of American (or Canadian) ones.
A North American community could develop an energy and natural resource security strategy. Already ...
A North American community could develop an energy and natural resource security strategy. Already Canada and Mexico are the two largest sources of oil for the USA, and Canada supplies almost all of the United States’ imports of natural gas and electricity. Ensuring security of supply and developing joint long-term energy strategies is clearly in all three countries’ interests. This could include joint investment in developing new methods of extracting and bringing to market reserves of fossil fuels, safeguarding Alberta’s high-cost oil industry against a global downturn in oil prices, and helping Mexico reform its inefficient energy sector. It could also include joint efforts on conservation and emissions, perhaps as a real alternative to the UN’s Kyoto process.
Control of natural resources is an important part of national sovereignty, which this plan threatens to remove from democratically elected governments. Canada and Mexico in particular should beware losing control of their resources (not just fossil fuels, but also water in Canada’s case) to their larger US neighbours. Current high energy prices provide an opportunity for them to raise investment from a wide range of international sources to ensure the long-term future of their fossil fuel industries. The rise of China also provides them with an alternative market in Asia which will allow them to realise a higher price for their oil and gas in the long-term than if they are locked into an energy-supply relationship with the USA.
A North American Community will build on the success of the North American Free Trade Agreement over...
A North American Community will build on the success of the North American Free Trade Agreement over the past decade. NAFTA has more than doubled trade between the three countries, and led to competition and greater productivity, allowing them all to compete better internationally. Its boost to the Mexican economy has made individual Mexicans richer, and their desire for consumer goods and services from the US (and Canada) has created jobs and promoted prosperity further north as well. Yet NAFTA was limited in its scope and too timid in many areas - a North American Community will sweep away the remaining barriers to trade (e.g. proof of origin rules, different environmental or safety regulations, the lack of a permanent dispute resolution tribunal, etc.) and advance economic integration.
NAFTA has been far from successful and it would be a big mistake to push for further economic integration. The removal of tariffs for industrial goods has seen jobs disappearing south to low-cost Mexico and has depressed wages in the US and Canada. Freer borders have made it easier for illegal immigrants to enter the USA. The removal of most agricultural tariffs is only now starting to take effect and may have a similarly bad impact on farmers in all three countries - it is certainly too soon to judge and so too soon for more integration to be considered. Furthermore, major disputes within NAFTA over Canadian lumber and water exports, and about the carrying of goods into the US by Mexican truckers show how the economic interests of the three countries are not the same.
What do you think?