This week the Council on Foreign Relations released a new report from the Independent Task Force of North America. Co-chaired by Robert Zoellick, Chair of International Advisors at Goldman Sachs, and David Petraeus, Chair of the KKR Global Institute, the report reviewed economic advances in the United States, Canada, and Mexico and made suggestions for future cooperation.
Rather than trying to recreate or extend the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, the recommendations focus on building mutual support between the three countries while allowing each to maintain its own unique identity. “For reasons of history and political culture, the United States, Canada, and Mexico are each highly protective of national sovereignty and independence,” the report cautions. This statement represents a stark contrast to other cooperative initiatives such as the European Union, which focused on common currency (the Euro) and similarities among the involved countries, with mixed results.
The Council on Foreign Relations report instead urges a closer look at ways North American countries can work together on issues such as energy, border management, trade, and law enforcement. These include:
- New offices put in charge of North America in the State Department and the National Security Council, as well as the designation of a cabinet official such as the Secretary of State or Treasury to bring a “North American” perspective to policy-making.
- A regional energy strategy building on North America’s advantageous, low-cost energy location.
- Speeding up and focusing on cross-border commerce and trilateral economic ventures.
- A new North American effort to help Central America deal with drug cartel activities unauthorized migration into the United States.
Zoellick and Petraeus also sat down to discuss the report with Shannon O’Neil, the Task Force Project Director, and presider Maria Bartiromo of Fox Business, in a live stream event recorded on October 1. Petraeus stressed the importance of North America’s advances in energy production and cooperation, while Zoellick highlighted the growing economic power of North America and its ability to compete with Asia and Europe.