Passing on the mantle of deep North American integration

Published on Online Journal, by Dana Gabriel, Nov. 6, 2009.

With the demise of the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) of North America and the restructuring of many of its key priorities under the banner of the North American Leaders Summit, other trilateral initiatives are also passing on the mantle of deep continental integration …

… The Future of North America Summit presented by the Standing Commission on North American Prosperity was scheduled to take place on November 2-3 of this year in Toronto, Canada. It was reported that the Summit was cancelled, but there is no indication if it will take place at a later date. The meetings would have included the participation of past political heavyweights such as former Mexican President Vicente Fox, former U.S. President George H.W. Bush, former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, as well as former Chilean President Ricardo Lagos Escobar. The agenda would have dealt with economic, environmental and climate change, energy, trade, transportation, along with other issues and how they relate to North America.

In a recent article Manuel Pérez-Rocha, director of the NAFTA Plus and the SPP Advocacy Project, raised some valid questions concerning the meetings. He stated, “Are we going back to the future? Why are these former leaders ‘representing’ countries they don’t run any more? Is their purpose to dictate to our actual presidents what to do to build North America? Why was ex president Lagos from Chile invited at all?” What is clear is that with the SPP no longer the vehicle being used to create a North American Union, other groups and initiatives are further advancing deep continental integration.

The 2009 meeting of the NAFTA Free Trade Commission was held in Dallas, Texas on October 19 of this year and brought together top trade officials from the U.S., Canada and Mexico. The meeting was used as an opportunity to celebrate NAFTA’s achievements and to plot a course for the future. Manuel Pérez-Rocha stated, “What the three governments are really doing is incorporating the already-buried, George W. Bush-led Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) agenda into NAFTA. While current presidents are stripping the SPP label, which has garnered much negative publicity, they’re keeping its principles to armor NAFTA as an instrument for further deregulation.” He also said that, “the merging of the SPP prosperity agenda into NAFTA is evident, especially after the recent Dallas meeting. In their declaration, the trade officials stated that since 2007, the three countries have worked together to protect and enforce intellectual property rights. This was one of the SPP’s plans, together with a ‘framework for regulatory cooperation,’ a ‘North American plan for avian and pandemic influenza,’ and an ‘agreement for cooperation on energy science and technology,’ which are also well under way.” Mexico is scheduled to host the next NAFTA Commission meeting in 2010. Despite the demise of the SPP, many of its key objectives have already been implemented or continue to move forward through other initiatives.

Speaking at the annual policy forum of the Canadian American Business Council held in Montreal on October 21, U.S. ambassador to Canada David Jacobson said that there are no immediate plans to reopen NAFTA. He also echoed Washington’s sentiments that the trade agreement is working well for all sides. This could not be further from the truth as NAFTA is badly flawed. Minus a few cosmetic changes that the Obama administration might make regarding side deals related to labor and the environment, the reality is that NAFTA will remain intact. The NAFTA structure is also being used to advance SPP objectives. All the talk of renegotiating the agreement appears to have revived the 15 year old trade accord and renewed the push for North American integration. This could lead to NAFTA’s expansion into a North American Union and might serve to further spread its failed model to other parts of the Western Hemisphere. (full text).

(Dana Gabriel is an activist and independent researcher. He writes about trade, globalization, sovereignty, as well as other issues. Contact, visit his blog).

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