Regional development

The North American trade bloc is working to define itself amid the region’s newenergy panorama. The presidents of Canada, the United States, and Mexico are betting on gas and oil to support their economic growth. The question is whether the three of them can reach an agreement.

President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico, the host country, is ready to promote foreign investment after having achieved a historic energy reform. Meanwhile, Canadian President Stephen Harper continues insisting that the United States allow the Keystone XL pipeline to cross its territory so it can export oil, and President Barack Obama is enjoying an oil and gas boom in the United States thanks to thesurge in production from hydraulic fracturing.

These three different situations symbolize the differences and asymmetries that have not been resolved among the countries in the 20 years since the North American Free Trade Agreement. This image should be borne in mind when the leaders speak of the next trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The deal’s impact, which was ignored in the NAFTA, should have a place in the new pact.

The issue of security in Mexico is also one that cannot be ignored given the escalation of violence in the wake of Peña Nieto’s decision to reduce the U.S. collaboration started under Calderón’s administration. The U.S.-Mexico border is long and there is great concern among the large Mexican community regarding the violence in their country. As we have said repeatedly, regional problems demand regional solutions.

The regional bloc’s economic and trade development should not be set apart from the welfare of the entire population that makes it up. This has to be an interest as shared and integrated among the three nations as is the exchange of goods and services.