North American integration talks still appear on the back burner, if they haven’t been taken off the stove entirely. But upcoming meetings of NAFTA foreign and trade ministers will be watched carefully for any hints of unpopular energy, security and regulatory policy harmonizations. On December 13, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister will host U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Mexican Foreign Affairs Secretary Patricia Espinosa at a meeting in Wakefield, Quebec. The three NAFTA ministers will discuss “the state of the economy and North American prosperity, international security, energy and climate change, the health and safety of citizens, and matters concerning the western hemisphere as a whole,” according to a release.
Canada’s trade minister, Peter Van Loan, is also expected to travel to Mexico in early December for the annual North American Commission meeting. Last year, the meeting took place in Dallas, Texas in the rubble of the Security and Prosperity Partnership. Despite the three NAFTA countries agreeing to leave the SPP process behind, trade ministers nonetheless promised in Dallas to continue to explore economic and security integration policies. In a joint statement from last October’s meeting, they:
…asked officials to develop a workplan to incorporate three principles: competitiveness, strengthening institutions, and communications and transparency. Since all tariff cuts under the agreement have been implemented, we asked officials to pursue cooperation in other areas, including reducing unnecessary regulatory differences to ensure the free flow of goods, services and capital through modern and efficient borders. This forward-looking workplan should draw upon the work already underway, as well as incorporate new elements, developed in consultation with all relevant stakeholders.
We’ll see this December how much energy was actually put into developing that workplan.