The leaders of Canada, Mexico and the United States will discuss a plan to beef up continental security and speed up movement across their borders when they meet next week.
A report calls for the creation of a common economic and security community by the end of the decade. The document’s proposals would try to create a secure perimeter around the continent, while making it easier for people and goods to move across the shared borders.
The proposals contained in the report are expected to be a part of the discussions when Prime Minister Paul Martin and Mexican President Vicente Fox meet with U.S. President George W. Bush at his ranch in Crawford, Texas.
The report was jointly sponsored by the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations, the Canadian Council of Chief Executives and the Mexican Council on Foreign Relations.
Among its chief recommendations:
Unified visa and refugee regulations.
Joint inspection of container traffic at ports.
An integrated terror watch list.
Biometric border passes to allow freer movement at borders and customs sites.
Joint energy and natural resources strategies.
A strategy to stimulate Mexican economic development.
If the three leaders manage to agree in principle to some of the report’s recommendations, further discussions would be required to hammer out the details.
Greater continental integration could be opposed in all three countries. A North American economic community could make some Canadians nervous about the country’s sovereignty.
Mexicans could worry about a U.S. grab of natural resources.
Some Americans, on the other hand, could be concerned about their partners’ commitment to continental security.
The task force that prepared the report was chaired by former deputy prime minister John Manley, former Mexican finance minister Pedro Aspe and former Massachusetts governor William Weld.