Meetings of the heads of state of North America have been dubbed Three Amigos summits, and rightly so. The trade, security and environmental interests of Canada, the United States and Mexico are closely intertwined.
Yesterday, U.S. President Barack Obama, Mexican President Felipe Calderon and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper met in Washington, focusing on strengthening the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) internally and externally. Undoubtedly, the countries have significant common issues such as regional security and the environment. However, everything is based on trade and advancing the region.
Internationally, the region’s role will grow within the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement, made up of nine Pacific Rim countries including the U.S. Canada and Mexico want to join this group. A coordinated front is also expected for the upcoming Summit of the Americas and the subsequent G-20 meeting.
Internally, the countries would like to strengthen their ties that grew out of NAFTA. Canada is the top oil exporter to the U.S., while Mexico is the second. Both countries are also the United States’ main trading partners. The three leaders mentioned a new focus on helping small- and medium-sized businesses reap benefits from NAFTA. We will have to wait and see the results.
While borders are disappearing for trade, they are also non-existing for drug mafias. This has turned security into a regional issue, with drugs heading north and arms and money heading south. The deaths have been happening in Mexico, but drug war efforts must be transnational. In this respect, it is worth highlighting the three countries intend to protect Central America, even though in reality the area has already been impacted by drug trafficking.
Each of the Three Amigos gathered in Washington is at a different place in his respective administration. Calderon will finish his term soon; Obama faces a tough re-election in November; and Harper doesn’t have strong opponents in sight. Nevertheless, an interest in strengthening the region goes beyond who is in charge of the country.