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Examining Ways to Make the North American Economy More Competititve

For the U.S. to remain competitive in a global economy, trade must be able to move across our borders efficiently.

Article by Laura Collins July 12, 2016 //   2 minute read

Recently, the George W. Bush Institute’s North American Competitiveness team met with officials from the North American Development Bank (NAD Bank).  The meeting was part of the Institute’s study on how to improve North America’s border infrastructure and make our economy more competitive.  

What is the NAD Bank?

The North American Development Bank and the Border Environment Cooperation Commission were formed in 1994 as a response to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Designated as an environmental infrastructure bank, its original task was to finance projects for wastewater treatment along the U.S.-Mexico border.  Today, NAD Bank’s focus has widened to include air-quality improvement, wind energy, and solar energy projects.

How Does This Relate to Border Infrastructure?

There is currently no mechanism for regional infrastructure planning in North America.  An entity similar to the NAD Bank is a potential solution for improving cross-border infrastructure on which so much of our economic competitiveness rests.

While NAD Bank has an environmental focus, it is an excellent model of how two countries can work together on transformative change. For example, many communities along the U.S.-Mexico border now experience improved health and safety as a result of basic water treatment infrastructure.  While this does not directly impact trade, it is extremely important to the people who drive the trade relationship.

Why Border Infrastructure?

The Bush Institute believes that border infrastructure is critical to an economically competitive North America.  Canada and Mexico are two of our largest trading partners, and much of that trade must pass through our land ports of entry.  Around $2.4 billion - nearly 2 million tons of goods - move across North America daily.  Trucks, rail, and pipelines carry more than 80% of the continent’s freight.  For the U.S. to remain competitive in a global economy, trade must be able to move across our borders efficiently.