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Five Ways to Strengthen North America

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Learn more about Matthew Rooney.
Matthew Rooney
Director, Outreach and Strategic Partnerships
George W. Bush Institute

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.