North America’s Future: Center for North American Studies Responds to Vice President Biden’s Call for a Blueprint for a North American Strategy

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American University’s Center for North American Studies (CNAS) is holding a high-level two day conference, The NAFTA Promise and the North American Reality: The Gap and How to Narrow It, to detail the specific steps necessary to achieve the North American agenda that Vice President Biden challenged the United States, Mexico and Canada to undertake on September 20, 2013, in Mexico City. Biden, as chair of the U.S.-Mexico High-Level Economic Dialogue gave a visionary address calling on civil society in the three countries to support a new approach and to offer specific recommendations to become the most prosperous and most economically viable place in the world in this century.

This conference on NAFTA and North America responds - in three distinct ways directly to U.S. Vice President Joe Biden's North American agenda on competitiveness, security and judicial reform, energy and the environment, immigration and governance.

Vice President Joe Biden in his capacity as chair of the U.S.-Mexico High-Level Economic Dialogue, in a visionary address in Mexico City on September 20, 2013, redefined U.S. policy not just to Mexico but to the entire continent and called on civil society to support the new approach and offer specific recommendations. In response to this request, the Center for North American Studies (CNAS) at American University will hold a high-level two-day public conference, "The NAFTA Promise and the North American Reality: The Gap and How to Narrow It," on October 31 and November 1, 2013. The conference will examine the rise of NAFTA and the decline since 2001 and offer specific proposals to improve continental competitiveness and security.

In Mexico, Biden underscored the significance of the continent: “There is no reason why North America cannot be the most prosperous and most economically viable place of the world in the 21st century....” Then, he developed a comprehensive North American agenda, and said: “We have been convinced of your message; now make us do it. Hard-working people in our countries are building our economic partnerships from the ground up every single solitary day. Our job is to take the difficult steps that make their job easier.”

Assembling leaders from government, media, business, civil society, and academia, CNAS at American University, in partnership with Tufts University’ Fletcher School Institutions, Law and Security Center (ILSC), St. Thomas University and Don Regan, Pedro Aspe, the North American Development Bank, and Pioneer Natural Resources, organized the conference to identify new paths toward deepening and expanding collaboration among Canada, Mexico and the United States, and through a specially commissioned public opinion survey in all three countries and a new North American NGO network, the conference also aims to help the Vice President "make us do it."

“What distinguishes this conference from most other conferences on NAFTA or North America,” Dr. Robert Pastor, professor at American University, and founding director of the CNAS, said, “is that it responds - in three distinct ways directly to U.S. Vice President Joe Biden's North American agenda on competitiveness, security and judicial reform, energy and the environment, immigration, and governance."

First, it will offer an analysis of why North America's initial promise and substantial gains peaked in 2001 and what is needed to reinvigorate the continent's economy and collaboration.

Second, the CNAS commissioned a new opinion survey in all three countries, which will be completed on the eve of the conference. The survey, organized by EKOS in Canada and Centro de Estudios de Opinión Pública (CEOP) in Mexico with Knowledge Networks in the U.S., will allow us to assess the views of the public in all three countries as to whether they want their governments to pursue more collaboration or less.

Third, by forging a network of nongovernmental organizations working on border and other shared North American issues, led by the Pacific Northwest Economic Region (PNWER) and the Border Trade Alliance based in the Southwest, it will provide a constituency platform to respond specifically to the request by Biden to help "make him do it."

Leading public figures participating in the conference include: Under Secretary of Commerce Francisco Sanchez; Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson; Assistant Secretary of Transportation for International Affairs and Aviation Susan Kurland; Special Assistant to the President and Director of Western Hemisphere Affairs, National Security Council Ricardo Zuniga; U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce Walter Bastian; Assistant U.S. Trade Representative John Melle; Assistant Secretary of International Affairs, Chief Diplomatic Officer for the Department of Homeland Security & former Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection Alan Bersin; former US ambassador to Canada Gordon Giffin; former US ambassador to Mexico and current special envoy for international energy affairs in the Department of State Carlos Pascual; Mexican Ambassador to the United States Eduardo Medina Mora; chief operating officer of Pemex Carlos Murrieta-Cummings; Javier Treviño, chair of three major committees in the Mexican Congress; Mexico's Undersecretary for North American Affairs Sergio Alcocer; former Foreign Minister of Mexico Jorge Castañeda; former director of Mexico's intelligence community Jaime Domingo López Buitrón; Canada's Ambassador to the U.S. Gary Doer; Assistant Deputy Minister William Crosbie; former deputy Prime Minister of Canada John Manley; Stephane Dion, former Chief of the Liberal Party and candidate former Minister of the Environment; Maria Isabel Studer, Founding Director of the Global Institute for Sustainability, Technologico de Monterey and leading journalists, including Thomas Friedman and David Sanger of the New York Times, Andres Oppenheimer of the Miami Herald, Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post, and Ray Suarez of Public Television's NewsHour.

Manuel Suárez-Mier, a Mexican economist and former diplomat, AU professor and newly named director of CNAS, said: “The twentieth anniversary of NAFTA presents an opportune moment for reflection on the progress made and the challenges that remain. It is the aim of this conference and American University's Center for North American Studies to restart a conversation about how the three nations of North America can best address their common challenges and plan for a more prosperous and secure continental future.”

American University is a leader in global education, enrolling a diverse student body from throughout the United States and nearly 140 countries. Located in Washington, D.C., the university provides opportunities for academic excellence, public service, and internships in the nation’s capital and around the world.

Date: Thursday, October 31 - Friday, November 1, 2013
Time: 2:00 pm-5:00 pm (Thursday) and 9:00 am-5:30 pm (Friday)

American University, School of International Service (SIS)
Abramson Family Founders Room
4400 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Washington, DC20016
See campus map here.
Also via live webstream

CONTACT: J. Paul Johnson, American University Communications, 202-885-5943 or via e-mail at jjohnson(at)american(dot)edu

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American University
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