Quick Note: In an effort to provide better resource material, I have begun the process of fixing any broken hyperlinks found in my articles.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Building Blocks Towards an Asia-Pacific Union

By Dana Gabriel



Although some may have viewed President Barack Obama’s recent Asian trip as uneventful and perhaps unsuccessful, he appears to have recommitted to the principles of globalization as the answer to the world’s economic woes. Obama declared his intentions for the U.S. to be fully engaged in Asia economically, politically, and in areas of security. He announced that America would join negotiations for a Trans-Pacific deal. This could be used as an opportunity for the U.S. to reassert its leadership in regards to trade initiatives and might also serve as a stepping stone for a larger free trade agreement.

The recent Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit was held in Singapore and marked its 20th anniversary. It brought together world leaders, foreign, finance and trade ministers, along with other delegates from its 21 member nations. APEC was founded to promote greater trade and integration in the region, but its scope has expanded to include environmental, climate change, energy, as well as other issues. In a Statement by APEC Leaders, they agreed to a new growth paradigm for the Asia-Pacific region, endorsed the goals of the G20 Framework and rejected protectionism. The Leaders, “launched a pathfinder initiative led by Australia, Canada, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Singapore, and the United States to practice self-certification of origin so that businesses can better take advantage of free trade agreements in the region.” This is in an effort to cut costs for exporters and further boost trade. APEC Leaders also agreed to, “continue to explore building blocks towards a possible Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific in the future.”

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Passing on the Mantle of Deep North American Integration

By Dana Gabriel


With the demise of the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) of North America and the restructuring of many of its key priorities under the banner of the North American Leaders Summit, other trilateral initiatives are also passing on the mantle of deep continental integration.

The Fifth Annual North American Forum was held in Ottawa on October 4-6, 2009. In a news release the group describes itself as, “a community of Canadian, Mexican and American thought leaders whose purpose is to advance a shared vision of North America, and to contribute to improved relations among the three countries.” It goes on to say that, “They come together annually to explore linkages among the mutually reinforcing goals of security, prosperity and enhanced quality of life.” Meetings are co-chaired by former U.S. Secretary of State, George Schultz, former Premier of Alberta, Peter Lougheed, as well as former Mexican Finance Minister Pedro Aspe. The North American Forum has no business office and no business address. It consists of the three co-chairs, along with their extensive network of contacts in government, business and the military, meeting privately to champion North American integration. The news release also stated that, “This year’s meeting of the North American Forum focused on the need for Canada, Mexico and the United States to work together in responding to the global economic crisis and promoting a quick return to strong and sustainable growth. In addition, the Forum included special sessions on two critical issues: one on energy and the environment, and the other on transnational crime, arms smuggling and drug trafficking.” The North American Forum has been described as a parallel structure to the SPP.