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Negotiating North America: The Security and ... - Hudson Institute

Negotiating North America: The Security and ... - Hudson Institute

Negotiating North America: The Security and Prosperity Partnership Summer 2007appropriations, and falls under congressionaloversight scrutiny. The checks and balances of theU.S. system, and the competition for power amongbranches of government (and within the executiveand legislative branches as well) are a majorconsideration for presidents hoping to negotiateeconomic and security agreements with allies.In the context of North America, and of deepeningcontinental integration, the management ofCongressional relations presents significantchallenges for U.S. negotiators both because of, andbeyond those just described. The bitterness ofcontemporary U.S. trade politics virtually ensures notrade agreement is ratified by Congress withoutskeptical scrutiny and acrimony, regardless of itseconomic significance. 5 Yet, economic, and nowsecurity, relations with Canada and Mexico have aparticular salience with many Americans simplybecause the impact is so direct. A trade agreementwith Singapore, or a security arrangement in the portof Rotterdam, will have a negligible effect on thelives of American voters. When voters areunperturbed, Congress is often quiescent as well,preferring to align itself with significant publicconcerns when challenging the executive. Relationswith Canada and Mexico affect Americans directly.Thirty-seven U.S. states count Canada as its largestforeign trade partner, and 22 states count Mexico asnumber one or number two. Nearly 40% percent ofAmericans live in states with a physical border witheither Canada or Mexico. 6 As many as 12 millionMexicans reside in the United States illegally, joiningsome 26.8 million Americans of Mexican ancestry.Significant numbers of American voters know one ormore Canadians personally, and more than 14 millionAmericans visited Canada and more than 20 millionvisited Mexico for vacations in 2005 alone. 7These linkages have grown and deepened as a resultof continental economic integration, which hasmultiplied the number of contacts and transactionsamong citizens of the three countries dramatically.As this contact has grown, so have the number ofAmericans with direct experience with the rules andsecurity procedures that affect U.S. trade withNAFTA partners, including rules affecting travelersfor business or tourism or visiting family on the otherside of the border. Famously impatient withbureaucracy, they can and do complain when they areimpeded or insulted by rules that they findunjustified. Many a customs officer since 1994 hasheard the complaint, ―I thought we were supposed tohave free trade with Canada/Mexico!‖ Additionally,the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) thathave dramatically increased their contribution tobilateral trade with Canada and Mexico sinceNAFTA remain SMEs, and typically expressfrustration with paperwork and regulations that largefirms accept with greater alacrity. In the age of email,a negative experience can translate into appeals toMembers of Congress as well as administrationofficials within minutes.As important as Canada and Mexico are as U.S.trading partners, the special scrutiny faced by anadministration when it negotiates on anything withthese governments is a constraint that can leadpresidents to defer action, and to approachconcessions with great anxiety that can seem at oddswith the balance of power that exists betweenWashington, Ottawa and Mexico City—in fact, thisbalance is matched by an equally delicate balancingact within the U.S. political and constitutionalsystems that must be managed with care by U.S.negotiators.Special Interests: The role of special interests—those that organize to have an influence ofH U D S O N I N S T I T U T E Page 6

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