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Wilson Center's Jim Dickmeyer on Improving North American Competitiveness

Article by Jim Dickmeyer, North American Competitiveness Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars November 14, 2016 //   4 minute read

North American economic integration is one of the most important factors in our region’s economic competitiveness. For over a year, the George W. Bush Institute’s North American Competitiveness Working Group has been meeting to analyze specific policy recommendations to enhance this competitiveness even further. The Woodrow Wilson Center was honored to participate in the Working Group.

This week, the Bush Institute will release these policy recommendations, which focus on border infrastructure and human capital.

These policy recommendations cannot succeed without genuine engagement from the three North American governments, however. The recent North American Leaders Summit (NALS) saw each country commit to more active engagement with each other by the creation of the Stakeholder Dialogue.

The announcement of the Stakeholder Dialogue did two important things. First, it created a formal channel for private sector and non-government entities to engage in the agenda of the NALS. Second, it fortified the NALS process itself by engaging with companies and non-governmental organizations already actively involved in integrated production and coordinated projects across the North American continent: auto and aerospace companies with North American production platforms and supply chains; transport and shipping interests managing the explosive growth of e-commerce among the three trading partners; energy and environmental leaders discussing innovative programs to adapt to rapid shifts in the North American energy picture.

The Wilson Center, specifically its Canada and Mexico institutes, were asked to organize and host the first NALS Stakeholder Dialogue. On September 29, 2016, nearly 90 stakeholders from a wide range of organizations met at the inaugural Dialogue, including the Bush Institute. Our discussion focused on two of the four principal pillars of the NALS agenda: 1) competitiveness; 2) energy and the environment.

The participants offered numerous specific recommendations that will be collected in a summary report and presented to the three governments as they prepare the agenda for the next NALS.

The Wilson Center’s Stakeholder Dialogue is just one of many initiatives working to improve North American competitiveness that operate at the nexus of non-government enterprise and public policy making. Similar processes are unfolding, with support from the Wilson Center, in Canada and Mexico. We will hold another dialogue in Washington in early March where we hope authorities from the new U.S. administration will participate. And in the coming weeks we will launch a NALS Stakeholder Dialogue page on the Woodrow Wilson website. In that space we will share the summary from the inaugural Dialogue and provide opportunities for comments from the public.

The recommendations resulting from the deliberations of the Bush Institute’s North American Competitiveness Working Group are outstanding examples of the work being done by many groups that contribute to a deeper understanding of the benefits our citizens derive from improved North American cooperation. These thoughtful recommendations along with many others must be brought to the attention of the three North American leaders as they plan their next NALS. The Wilson Center pledges to do its part in ensuring that this happens.