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Embrace a bold new North American agenda, business leaders urge

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Embrace a bold new North American agenda, business leaders urge

North America can lead the world economy for decades to come if Canada, the United States, and Mexico work together to strengthen the region’s competitiveness, says a new report from the Canadian Council of Chief Executives.

“Closer collaboration and enhanced trade with our neighbours will bring jobs and increased prosperity to Canada and our North American partners,” said The Honourable John Manley, President and Chief Executive Officer of the CEO Council.

The report is titled “Made in North America: a new agenda to sharpen our competitive edge.” It offers 44 recommendations to the three governments as they prepare for the next North American Leaders’ Summit, scheduled for February 2015.

The report calls on the public and private sectors to harness the powers of technology and so-called “big data” to streamline border crossings and support North America’s highly integrated supply chains.

“The ‘security trumps trade’ argument is a false dichotomy,” the report says. “Through the practical application of big data, we can ensure that security and trade facilitation are mutually reinforcing rather than mutually exclusive.”

The report points out that North America is in the midst of an energy revolution spurred by new technology. But to make the most of their energy resources, Canada, the United States and Mexico need to improve cross-border energy infrastructure and build stronger alliances among energy regulators.

The three countries should also pursue a coordinated North American approach to climate change and a strategy to advance renewable and low-carbon energy technologies, the report says.

Among other recommendations, the report suggests that the three governments should:

  • embrace new financing options – including public-private partnerships – that could drive major investments in infrastructure projects along the Canada-U.S. and Mexico-U.S. borders;
  • systematically tackle the “mind-boggling inspection procedures and accompanying mountains of paperwork” that impede cross-border trade and add an estimated $800 to the cost of a typical North American-manufactured car;
  • work together to ensure that each country can take maximum advantage of its trade agreements with other countries and regions, such as the European Union. In particular, the three countries need to make sure that their respective free trade agreements recognize one another’s content for rules-of-origin purposes;
  • update the 20-year-old list of professionals who are eligible for temporary entry into each other’s countries under chapter 16 of the North American Free Trade Agreement; and
  • significantly enhance collaboration among the three countries to address the growing challenge of cybersecurity.

Copies of the report can be downloaded here.

The CEO Council is the senior voice of Canada’s business community, representing 150 chief executives and leading entrepreneurs in all sectors and regions of the country. Its member companies collectively employ 1.5 million Canadians and are responsible for most of Canada’s private-sector investments, exports, workplace training and research and development.

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