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This morning, President George W. Bush opened an economic conference hosted by the North American Strategy for Competitiveness (NASCO) with a reminder that growing jobs, closing wage gaps, and strengthening small businesses in the U.S. depends on the continued success of free and fair trade.
“How do we make sure that our country is economically competitive in the world and that Americans are able to get a good job at a good wage? By making sure that the environment is right for investment and the environment is right for the growth of small businesses,” said President Bush. “It’s really important for the American citizen to understand that it’s the small business person who benefits from trade, and the entrepreneur benefits when he or she is able to find new markets.”
As one example, the President explained that workers in trade-intensive industries earn 18 percent more than workers in industries not related to trade. He also observed that, compared to when he was growing up in Texas, a thriving middle class has emerged on both sides of the Texas-Mexico border. And he pointed out how Canadian capital helped save U.S. jobs at Learjet, an American company.
The President acknowledged that “transformation of our economy creates angst.” But, he said, “Anger shouldn’t drive policy. What should drive policy is what’s best for people who are angry.”
transformation of our economy creates angst. But, Anger shouldn’t drive policy.
One of those policies is working together across borders, which he said “enhances the economic vitality of our neighborhood.” Bush Institute Economic Growth Director Matthew Rooney later showcased how integrating the three economies of North America has indeed led to greater economic growth.
Rooney pointed out that trade across North America has risen from $486 billion in 1990 to $1.41 trillion in 2014. Of course, the North American Free Trade Agreement took root in 1994, helping spur much of that growth in trade.
Rooney finished his presentation by announcing key policy recommendations aimed at growing the North American economy. He noted that over the past year, a working group of international experts, private sector representatives, and diplomats developed the recommendations to underscore that North America continues to be the world’s most competitive economic region. The group points to the removal of barriers to trade and investment throughout North America as an important factor that enables businesses to create more productive supply chains and manufacturing platforms.
“We believe that the core challenge for North America is productivity,” said Rooney. “It has grown too slowly and has failed to support rising incomes. In response to this, we have two basic strategies for boosting productivity. The first enhances the skill base of our workforce, and the second is a joint mechanism to promote market-driven development of cross-border road and rail infrastructure.”
We believe that the core challenge for North America is productivity. It has grown too slowly and has failed to support rising incomes
Despite rhetoric to the contrary, now is the time to reinforce our North American bond, not dissolve it. As President Bush said, “When Mexico is strong economically, America benefits. When Canada is strong economically, America benefits. And as America benefits, those who work hard for a living benefit as well.”
William McKenzie is editorial director for the George W. Bush Institute, where he also serves as editor of The Catalyst: A Journal of Ideas from the Bush Institute.
Active in education issues, he co-teaches an education policy class at SMU’s Simmons School of Education and Human Development. He also participates in the Bush Institute’s school accountability project.
Before joining the Bush Institute, the Fort Worth native served 22 years as an editorial columnist for the Dallas Morning News and led the newspaper’s Texas Faith blog. The University of Texas graduate’s columns appeared nationwide and he has won a Pulitzer Prize and commentary awards from the Education Writers Association, the American Academy of Religion, and the Texas Headliners Foundation, among other organizations. He still contributes columns and essays for the Morning News and The Weekly Standard.
Before joining the News in 1991, he earned a master’s degree in political science from the University of Texas at Arlington and spent a dozen years in Washington, D.C. During that time, he edited the Ripon Forum.
McKenzie has served as a Pulitzer Prize juror, on the board of a homeless organization, and on governing committees of a Dallas public school. He also is an elder of the First Presbyterian Church in Dallas, where he lives with his wife and their twin children.Full Bio
Ashley McConkey manages communications for the George W. Bush Presidential Center and is responsible for message development on behalf of the Economic Growth, Human Freedom and Military Service initiatives.
Before joining the Bush Center, McConkey worked in the communications and public policy arena in Austin, Texas for both non-profit and corporate entities. She also served as a Budget and Policy Adviser to Texas House Speaker Joe Straus.
McConkey grew up in Greenville, Texas and moved to Austin to study Political Science at St. Edward’s University. She and her husband reside in Dallas.Full Bio
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