The leaders of North America, meeting in Toluca, Mexico, on Wednesday, have pledged anew to develop a North American Competitiveness work plan focused on investment, innovation, and increased private-sector engagement.
"We seek to set new standards for global trade through the prompt conclusion of a high standard, ambitious, and comprehensive Trans-Pacific Partnership, as we promote further trade liberalization in the Asia-Pacific region," said US President Barack Obama, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in a Joint Statement, issued late on Wednesday, at the North American Leaders' Summit.
The statement said the three will develop a North American Transportation Plan, beginning with a regional freight plan and building on existing initiatives.
"We will also streamline procedures and harmonize customs data requirements for traders and visitors," it said. "We will facilitate the movement of people through the establishment in 2014 of a North American Trusted Traveler Program, starting with the mutual recognition of the NEXUS, Global Entry, SENTRI, and Viajero Confiable programs." "Our governments will leverage the existing bilateral border mechanisms to enhance the secure movement of goods across North America and promote trilateral exchanges on logistics corridors and regional development," it said.
The statement said the governments will engage stakeholders and academics to better assess and plan for the needs of North America's future workforce. "We will promote joint research in national laboratories and universities, building connections between North American businesses, particularly entrepreneurs, and technology accelerators," it said. "We will first focus on entrepreneurship and innovation exchanges, and actions to advance the economic empowerment of women." We would "commit to increase the number of student exchanges from within the region in our respective higher education systems, in line with the United States' 100,000 Strong in the Americas Initiative, Mexico's Proyecta 100,000, and Canada's International Education Strategy," the leaders said.
The countries' energy ministers will meet later in 2014 to discuss opportunities to promote common strategies on energy efficiency, infrastructure, innovation, renewable energy, unconventional energy sources, energy trade, and responsible resource development, including the development of relevant technical studies, the statement said.
"Our countries will continue to work together to address climate change in pursuit of an ambitious and inclusive global agreement within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, while also collaborating through complementary mechanisms like the Major Economies Forum, the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, and the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas," it said.
"In addition, we will intensify our efforts to promote an amendment to the Montreal Protocol to phase-down production and consumption of climate-damaging hydrofluorocarbons." As increasingly integrated neighbors, "we recognize the need to collaborate effectively to counter global threats, such as international terrorism, and to protect our shared critical infrastructure," the statement said.
"We will continue to coordinate and pursue new areas of cooperation to counter drug trafficking, arms trafficking, and other illicit trade, consistent with our laws and constitutions.
"To more effectively counter money laundering and illicit financial flows while ensuring the efficient interconnection of our systems, our authorities will enhance their dialogue on financial sector regulation and supervision. Our governments share a commitment to combating human trafficking in all its forms and will work toward improving services for the victims of this crime." The leaders pledged to build upon the North American Plan for Animal and Pandemic Influenza "to strengthen our preparedness and response to future public health events," it said.
"We support the Open Government Partnership, and we are committed to transparency and open government across the world," it said. "We will also continue to promote democracy, human rights, and the respect of international law throughout the world and in the Americas, consistent with the values enumerated in the Inter-American Democratic Charter."