Q: What is most important about the summit of the three presidents in Texas today?
A: Our three countries have decided that we must improve our security, and at the same time, bring more prosperity and a better quality of life to our people. How can we do this? First, we cooperate to ensure that people and cargo move safely and efficiently through our borders; second we remove the barriers that make our economies less competitive in the global marketplace. As North America increases its competitive advantage, this means greater economic opportunities – jobs – but without sacrificing our standards of health and safety. This new North American Partnership for Security and Prosperity (NAPS-Pro or SIESTA-Pro – Socios Interesados en Seguridad tanto asi como la Prosperidad) builds on what we have accomplished so far with NAFTA, Partnership for Prosperity, Smart Borders and the Border Partnership Action Plan.
Q: How is the new Partnership going to get started?
A: The leaders of the Mexico, Canada and the United States announced an action plan, which asks their ministers to convene trilateral working groups before the end of June this year in order to lay out the specific steps that need to be taken and a timeline to do this.
Q: Will the working groups be able to resolve the differences we have about immigration or trade?
A: We already have ways to discuss bilateral issues, that’s what the Bi-National Commission does each year; and NAFTA has the dispute resolution chapters to settle problems. In regard to immigration, the President has laid out a clear sense of principles, but as we all know, it’s up to the Congresss to enact legislation. The fact is that immigration reform becomes far more likely when the U.S. public and its leaders feel confident that the border is secure and Mexico is doing everything it can to create economic opportunities. In this new approach, the Partnership for Security and Prosperity, we look toward where we want to go in the years ahead. We want to make North America the best place in the world to live, to work and to set up a business.
Q: What will this new partnership cost? Will legislation or changes to laws be involved?
A. We intend to use existing resources, and this initiative will bring benefits to all by making us safer, making our regulations more efficient and our companies more competitive. Each country will consider if legislative proposals are necessary, but there is much that can be accomplished within our respective legal frameworks.
Q: But what does this larger, trilateral bloc do to the concerns of sovereignty in each country?
A: There’s no risk to sovereignty because the legal framework of each nation is respected. The action plans will ensure that new security measures do not impose obstacles to trade and investment in North America. The prosperity plan will create a more attractive business environment, but it won’t be a common market or customs union. The goal is not to hinder deeper relations with any nation. On the contrary, for instance, the Partnership will contribute to stronger ties with nations of this hemisphere.
Q: Won’t this mean putting economic objectives ahead of the environment?
A: No, we want to maintain high standards for the health and safety of our people – and that means protecting the environment, keeping our food supply safe and promoting public health.
Q: Why is there so much focus on regulatory issues? How does this mean prosperity?
A: First, to be competitive, we have to reduce transaction costs and unnecessary barriers for companies doing business in North America. Incompatible product regulations are a burden to companies, but enhanced cooperation will provide consumers with better, cheaper products. To begin our work, agriculture, energy, environment, financial services, food, manufactured goods, transportation plus information and communication technologies are sectors the three countries have identified for this effort.