Sunday 14 November 2021

What Canada's priorities are during "Three Amigos" summit

Global News in Canada shows that this week on "The West Block," host Mercedes Stephenson is joined by Canada’s ambassador to the United States, Kirsten Hillman, to outline Canadian priorities ahead of the 'Three Amigos' summit. 

Next week, President Joe Biden will host Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador for the first in-person meeting of North American leaders in five years. 

Plus, Green Party MP Elizabeth May shares her critique of Canada’s new climate goals now that COP26 has concluded. 

Finally, "The West Block" brings a special look back at the national Remembrance Day service in Ottawa.

The North American Leaders' Summit (NALS), sometimes called the "Three Amigos Summit" in the popular press, is the trilateral summit between the Prime Minister of Canada, the President of Mexico, and the President of the United States. The summits were initially held as part of the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP), a continent-level dialogue between the 3 countries established in 2005, and continued after SPP became inactive in 2009.

The most recent North American Leaders' Summit was hosted by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on June 29, 2016 at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Trudeau hosted USA President Barack Obama and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. The 3 leaders discussed a shared commitment to LGBT rights (with Trudeau highlighting their importance after the recent attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando), renewable energy development, and free trade. The leaders also announced the creation of a North American Climate, Clean Energy, and Environment Partnership and associated action plan.

During the presidency of Donald Trump from 2017 to 2021, no official summits were held. The leaders of the 3 countries continued to meet at other events, such as the signing of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement during the 2018 G20 Buenos Aires summit.

NAFTA was an interesting agreement. The USMCA took effect on July 1, 2020, replacing NAFTA.

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA; Spanish: Tratado de Libre Comercio de América del Norte, TLCAN; French: Accord de libre-échange nord-américain, ALÉNA) was an agreement signed by Canada, Mexico, and the United States that created a trilateral trade bloc in North America. The agreement came into force on January 1, 1994, and superseded the 1988 Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement between the United States and Canada. The NAFTA trade bloc formed one of the largest trade blocs in the world by gross domestic product.

The impetus for a North American free trade zone began with USA president Ronald Reagan, who made the idea part of his 1980 presidential campaign. After the signing of the Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement in 1988, the administrations of U.S. president George H. W. Bush, Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari, and Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney agreed to negotiate what became NAFTA. Each submitted the agreement for ratification in their respective capitals in December 1992, but NAFTA faced significant opposition in both the United States and Canada. All three countries ratified NAFTA in 1993 after the addition of two side agreements, the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation (NAALC) and the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (NAAEC).

Passage of NAFTA resulted in the elimination or reduction of barriers to trade and investment between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. The effects of the agreement regarding issues such as employment, the environment, and economic growth have been the subject of political disputes. Most economic analyses indicated that NAFTA was beneficial to the North American economies and the average citizen, but harmed a small minority of workers in industries exposed to trade competition. Economists held that withdrawing from NAFTA or renegotiating NAFTA in a way that reestablished trade barriers would have adversely affected the USA economy and cost jobs. However, Mexico would have been much more probably severely affected by job loss and reduction of economic growth in both the short term and long term.

After USA President Donald Trump took office in January 2017, he sought to replace NAFTA with a new agreement, beginning negotiations with Canada and Mexico. In September 2018, the United States, Mexico, and Canada reached an agreement to replace NAFTA with the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), and all 3 important countries had ratified it by March 2020. NAFTA remained in force until USMCA was implemented. In April 2020, Canada and Mexico notified the U.S. that they were ready to implement the agreement. The USMCA took effect on July 1, 2020, replacing NAFTA. The new law involved only small-size changes.

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