NAFTA: Kicked Up a Notch

by Laura Carlsen

The North American Free Trade Agreement is the world’s most advanced example of the U.S.-led free trade model. It’s not just about economics any more. The expansion of NAFTA into the Security and Prosperity Partnership reveals the road ahead for other nations entering into free trade agreements. It is not a road most nations — or the U.S. public — would take if they knew where it led.

The first problem is that very few people know about this next step of “deep integration.” In March 2005, Presidents George Bush, Vicente Fox and Prime Minister Paul Martin in Waco, Texas launched the Security and Prosperity Partnership with a splash. Although it had few visible results, the Waco meeting of the “Three Amigos” set into motion an underground process that spawned its own working groups, rules, recommendations, and agreements — all below the radar of the legislatures and the public in the three nations. These rules and trinational programs have profound effect on the environment, the daily lives of citizens, and the future of all three countries.

The SPP not only further greases the wheels of corporate cooperation and potentially increases U.S. access to Mexican oil. Its security component represents a new and ominous form of integration, all in the name of counter-terrorism.

The SPP’s Real Objectives

From its origins in Waco, the SPP has developed through several formal meetings, including a March 31, 2006 meeting of heads of state in Cancun and a ministerial meeting in Canada in February 2007. Canadian civil society watchdogs also outed a secret meeting of high-level government, military and business people in Banff in September of 2006.

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