Globe & Mail Op-Ed: “CETA’s nice. But NAFTA is essential”

CETA, or the emerging trade deal between Canada and the European Union, is a big deal.  But NAFTA’s is a bigger deal.  And enhancing the Norther American economic partnership is critical for Canada, Mexico, and America’s future economic success.  While there may not be universal agreement on his steps forward and diagnosis of current initiatives  Konrad Yakabuski’s Globe & Mail op-ed does a masterful job of putting NAFTA back in the picture.

Some key points from Yakabuski’s Globe & Mail op-ed:

-NAFTA trading partners trade hit $1.1 trillion in 2012.  Canada-EU trade is $90 billion.

-Enhancing the North American economic relationship requires Canada-Mexico-U.S. cooperation

-“The glacial pace of progress of the Canada-U.S. Beyond the Border initiative is proof [that deepening economic cooperation isn’t easy].”

From his article is today’s Globe and Mail:

Brian Mulroney will never be accused of underestimating his own accomplishments, but the former prime minister was spot on when he was asked to comment on the new Canada-Europe free-trade agreement, a deal Stephen Harper calls the “biggest” our country has ever done.

“This one is significant,” Mr. Mulroney told CTV’s Question Period, “but it’s not in the same league” as the Canada-U.S. free-trade deal, which went into effect in 1989 and was expanded in 1994 to include Mexico.

…The theme of the conference – three nations, two borders, one economy – underscores the point that we need not surrender sovereignty or erase borders to deepen economic integration. A common NAFTA external tariff, regulatory harmonization, a continental energy strategy, greater labour mobility and enhanced public consciousness about our interdependence can all be accomplished without merging into one country.

That’s not to say it’s easy. The glacial pace of progress of the Canada-U.S. Beyond the Border initiative is proof. NAFTA partners have reverted to dealing with each other on a bilateral basis rather than daring to think trilaterally. NAFTA is still such a touchy issue in U.S. politics, a catch-all acronym blamed for U.S. deindustrialization, that amending it is extremely difficult.

But for all the schadenfreude about American decline, the United States is still the world’s most innovative economy. And it still buys more than 70 per cent of Canada’s exports.

By NAFTA’s 40th birthday, Mexico’s economy will have surpassed Canada’s in size. And by mid-century, it’s poised to be twice as big as ours.

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