North American Leaders’ Summit: A Review

By August 21, 2007Trade

Mexican President Felipe Calderon is leaving early in response to Hurricane Dean, but otherwise events appear to be unfolding as expected at the North American leaders’ summit in Montebello, Canada. Nothing much actually gets done at these events; working papers are drafted beforehand, staff have been meeting for months. But they’re still useful forums to identify openly problems that need to be addressed through some type of cooperative effort. From the AP:

On security, Bush, Harper and Calderon want to find a way to protect citizens in an emergency without the tie-ups that slowed commerce after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The three leaders are also seeking middle ground on issues ranging from energy to trade, food safety to immigration. Few, if any, formal announcements are expected at the meeting at a highly secured red cedar chateau along the banks of the Ottawa River.

We trust the seriousness of the discussions, however brief, reflects the seriousness of the issues. One of the NAM’s international policy experts summarized the commercial issues in a USA Today article last week:

“Security measures have slowed things down, and it has made trade more costly,” says Bill Primosch, director of international business policy for the National Association of Manufacturers. “If manufacturers have these additional costs, it makes them less competitive.”

Primosch cites cereal as a product that cannot easily cross borders. He says some American cereal can’t be sold in Canada without changing the recipe because Canada bars certain ingredients.

“What’s been good for 300 million Americans can’t be really bad for Canadians,” he says. “Can’t we find a way to agree on a common regulation?”

You would think.

  • The press gaggle at the curling rink of Fairmont Le Château Montebello, conducted by Dan Fisk, Senior Director for Western Hemisphere Affairs, National Security Council.
  • Globe and Mail coverage.
  • The Reuters story, with a Fact Box.
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