The North American Idea: A Vision of a Continental Future

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Oxford University Press, USA, Jul 21, 2011 - Business & Economics - 264 pages
In its first seven years, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) tripled trade and quintupled foreign investment among the U.S., Mexico, and Canada, increasing its share of the world economy. In 2001, however, North America peaked. Trade slowed among the three, manufacturing jobs shrunk, and illegal migration and drug-related violence soared. Europe caught up, and China leaped ahead. In The North American Idea , eminent scholar and policy-maker Robert A. Pastor explains that NAFTA's mandate was too limited to address the new North American agenda. Instead of offering bold initiatives like a customs union to expand trade, the three leaders thought small. Interest groups stalemated the small ideas as they inhibited the bolder proposals, and the governments accomplished almost nothing. To overcome this resistance and re-invigorate the continent, the leaders need to start with an idea based on a principle of interdependence. If one country fails, all three are harmed, and if one grows, they all benefit. Drawing on first-hand experience as a policy-maker and analyst, Pastor shows how this idea--once woven into the national consciousness of the three countries--could mobilize public support for continental solutions to problems that have confounded each nation working on its own. To stimulate trade and reduce illegal migration, for example, the three countries could set up a fund to invest in the continent's infrastructure. Such a fund would be impossible without leadership and an idea of the continent's current importance and its future promise. Providing essential historical context and challenging readers to view the continent in a new way, Robert Pastor offers an expansive vision and a detailed blueprint for a more integrated, dynamic, and equitable North America.

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About the author (2011)

Robert A. Pastor is Professor of International Relations and Founder and Director of the Center for North American Studies at American University. He served on the National Security Council and as a Consultant to the State and Defense Departments. He is the author of sixteen other books, including
Exiting the Whirlpool: U.S. Foreign Policy to Latin America and A Century's Journey: How the Great Powers Shape the World.

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