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Center for North American Studies

Toward a North American Community:
Lessons from the Old World for the New

By: Robert A. Pastor, C. Fred Bergsten (Preface)

Book Description

"The United States, Canada, and Mexico need to modernize our relationship if we want the 21St Century to improve on the past. The three countries of North America already have a larger market than the European Union, but we have not begun to explore our potential as a diverse community. Robert Pastor's book offers a wealth of new ideas and proposals for constructing a North American Community and lifting all of the people of the entire continent" --Vicente Fox, President of Mexico.

The Mexican peso crisis struck in late December 1994, coinciding with a new Mexican administration and the end of the first year of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The crisis poignantly highlighted the success and the inadequacy of the treaty-success in the expansion of trade and capital flows, and inadequacy in institutional capacity. The Canadian, Mexican, and US governments defined the agreement so narrowly that they failed to devise a mechanism that could monitor, anticipate, plan, or even respond to such a serious problem. The new president of Mexico, Vicente Fox Quesada, has boldly proposed transforming the free trade area into a common market like Europe's. This has evoked lukewarm responses from the Bush and Chrétien administrations, which have not yet developed ways to cope with the new problems stemming from accelerated social and economic integration or to take advantage of North America's opportunities.

In this visionary study, Robert A. Pastor seizes Fox's idea and maps out the paths toward making it a reality. He analyzes NAFTA's success and shortcomings, extracts lessons from the European Union's 40 years of reducing disparities between rich and poor countries, and proposes ways that NAFTA can adapt and incorporate those lessons. The centerpiece of the book is a detailed proposal and specific recommendations for new institutions and "North American policies," including plans for infrastructure and transportation, immigration and customs, a unified currency, and projects aimed to lift the poorer regions. The author addresses issues of sovereignty and national interest and concludes with a look ahead toward a Free Trade Area of the Americas.

This book is the first of its kind to propose a detailed approach to a North American Community - different from the European Common Market but drawing lessons from its experience. It will be of considerable interest for policymakers in the region as well as researchers and students of international political economy, world trade, and foreign affairs.

Available Online

Chapters available from the publisher, Peterson Institute for International Economics.