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Five Ways to Strengthen North America

February 14, 2017 3 minute Read by Matthew Rooney
The visit of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Washington this week once again puts the North American alliance in the spotlight. Here are five ways to make the alliance work better for the economies of each nation.

The visit of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Washington this week once again puts the North American alliance in the spotlight. Canada, the United States, and Mexico each gain from this alliance, as the Bush Institute’s recent North American Competitiveness Scorecard highlights. But it will take strategic policy choices to make sure we prosper even more from our unique geography and shared heritage.

As the Bush Institute indicated in a recent set of policy recommendations, these five elements could make North America work better for each of our economies:

Empower entrepreneurs and reduce uncertainty by reforming the U.S. Presidential Permit process

Building a road or pipeline across our borders requires a political determination by the State Department that the project is in the national interest. The resulting scrum of lobbyists and consultants tends to favor the best-connected and best-funded, not necessarily the project that would best increase productivity and competitiveness.  

A reform of this process would reduce the cost of developing infrastructure like roads, rail lines, bridges, and pipelines that cross the borders of North America. The reform also would make U.S. manufactured goods more globally competitive and secure manufacturing jobs. 

Encourage private capital to invest in infrastructure across borders

This kind of investment will empower the market to drive priorities and strengthen the competitiveness of our supply chains. The result will be a reduction in unnecessary delays, again making our manufactured goods more competitive and securing manufacturing and logistics jobs. As we talk about a major investment in general infrastructure, it is important to ensure that cross-border infrastructure is able to support our global competitiveness. 

Promote a regional approach to developing workforce standards and certification

Varying standards raise the cost of recruiting and training, depressing productivity and incomes. Higher standards developed with private sector leadership will boost productivity of labor, similarly making our manufactured goods more competitive and securing manufacturing and logistics jobs. 

Strengthen cooperation on regulations

We need better cooperation on regulations of products from cars to jellybeans to eliminate and prevent the emergence of standards that differ without enhancing health or safety. These strategies will reduce production costs, further strengthening competitiveness of our products and securing manufacturing jobs. 

Ensure consistency of safety standards in the exploration, production, refining, and distribution of energy

Common standards will reduce the cost of energy, further strengthening our manufacturing competitiveness and securing manufacturing and logistics jobs. 

These policies would strengthen our manufacturing base while preserving the competitive advantages of trade with our Canadian and Mexican neighbors.  They could also open new job opportunities as they boost production and productivity. 


Author

Matthew Rooney
Matthew Rooney

Matt Rooney joined the Bush Center in June 2015 from a career as a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State.  At postings in Washington and abroad, Matt focused on advocating market-driven solutions to economic policy challenges in both industrialized and developing countries, and on protecting the interests of U.S. companies abroad. 

In Washington, Matt was on loan to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to create a high-level private sector advisory body for the Summits of the Americas, working closely with the U.S. private sector and with companies and business associations from throughout the Americas to negotiate an agenda to promote economic integration in the region for presentation to the leaders of the Americas.  Previously, he was Deputy Assistant Secretary responsible for relations with Canada and Mexico and for regional economic policy.   Prior to this, as Director of the Office of Economic Policy, he led interagency and international negotiations in 2008 that produced the Secretary’s Pathways to Prosperity in the Americas initiative, designed to engage with our Free Trade Agreement partners on strategies for ensuring that the benefits of globalization are broadly shared in our societies.

Abroad, Matt was Consul General in Munich, a Consulate General providing a full range of Consular and export promotion services, supporting a permanent presence of 30,000 U.S. forces in two major base complexes, and performing political and economic analysis in support of U.S. diplomatic objectives in Germany. As Counselor for Economic and Commercial Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in San Salvador, El Salvador, he laid the groundwork for free trade negotiations between the United States and the five countries of Central America, and promoted market-based reforms for electrical power.  Prior to this, Matt served in various posts in Germany, Gabon and Côte d’Ivoire. 

Matt studied Economics, German and French at the University of Texas at Austin and received his Master’s Degree in International Management at the University of Texas at Dallas.  With his wife Dianna, Matt has two young adult sons.

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