With the U.S. Department of Transportation pushing ahead to start the Mexican truck demonstration project as early as July 15, Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters met with her Mexican and Canadian transportation counterparts in Tucson, Ariz., April 27 to participate in the first “North American Transportation Trilateral.”
A major goal of the Bush administration is to open the United States to Mexican and Canadian airplanes as well as Mexican trucks.
The April 27 North American Transportation Trilateral also made clear U.S. transportation infrastructure is being reconfigured to meet the increasing demands of globalization and world trade.
Meeting with Mexico’s Secretary of Commerce and Transportation Luis T?llez and Canada’s Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communications Lawrence Cannon, the ministerial meeting was dedicated to defining under the Security and Prosperity Partnership a North American transportation system designed to meet the continental needs of “free trade” agreements, including NAFTA, and the World Trade Organization.
Peters opened the meeting by commenting, “This is an historic meeting – the first time North America’s transportation ministers have ever come together for trilateral talks.”
In a meeting that went virtually unreported in the United States mainstream media, Peters commented that the 2005 air services agreement between the United States and Mexico and the Open Skies accord signed with Canada in March lift restrictions on continental travel to provide for “free and open trans-border air travel.”
The trilateral transportation ministers are pushing for a North American Open Skies agreement within the next 10 years that would supplement the Open Skies agreement the Bush administration finalized with the European Union in March.
Over the next decade, the Bush administration open skies policy envisions that “Air Canada could be competing with U.S. carriers on the New York-Paris route and Aeromexico might be launching flights between Los Angeles and Toronto,” said a State Department release.
That the meeting was not limited to NAFTA was made clear by Peters’ comments about West Coast ports, noting, “We have similar opportunities today to set the framework so ports up and down the West Coast of North America have the flexibility to handle the growing volumes of trade with Asia.”
In the Ministerial Declaration posted on the Canadian government’s Transport Canada website, the trilateral ministers affirmed their commitment “to developing coordinated, compatible and interconnected national transportation systems” designed to meet “the future of our shared transportation interests in an increasingly globalized world.”
The Ministerial Declaration’s highlighted goal to “advance seamless air transport systems in North America” is supported by the “2005 Report to Leaders” on the Department of Commerce-maintained SPP government website.
This report notes that since the a North America Wide Area Augmentation agreement was signed with Mexico and Canada in 2004, five WAAS stations were targeted to be built in Canada and Mexico in 2005. The SPP “2006 Report to Leaders” posted on the White House website documented that the five WAAS stations were built in Canada and Mexico as planned.
The U.S. Department of Transportation defines WAAS as “an extremely accurate navigation system for aviation, providing precise navigation and landing guidance to equipped aircraft in any weather.” WAAS provides coverage to the entire United States, “overcoming obstacles to ground-based systems, such as mountainous terrain.”
According to DOT, WAAS uses a network of precisely located ground reference stations across the U.S. with locations in Canada and Mexico to monitor GPS satellite signals.
The Ministerial Declaration also addressed what are being characterized as “NAFTA superhighways,” noting, “We believe that actions to facilitate commerce across our borders in all modes of transport, especially in road transport, will improve supply chain and logistics processes and provide for continued North American competitiveness.”
In this regard, the declaration called for “adequate transportation infrastructure and efficient transportation services within and between our countries.”
The vision for a North American transportation system suited for world trade was articulated in the May 2005 Council on Foreign Relations report entitled, “Building a North American Community.”
The CFR task force report made no secret of its intention to “establish a seamless North American market for trade.” The task force recommended completely “open skies and open highways” in North American with North American transportation firms, including trucking companies and airlines, having unlimited access to each other’s territories.
As the report explained, a Canadian trucker should be able to haul freight not just to and from Canada, but from Chicago to Los Angeles as well. So, too, the report argued, an American airline should be able to carry passengers between Mexico City and Monterrey, even if the flight included no destination in the United States.
American University professor Robert A. Pastor, one of the co-chairs of the CFR task force producing the “Building a North American Community” report, has repeatedly called for “an integrated continental plan for transportation and infrastructure” as part of his stated goal of creating a “North American Community.”
The first “North American Transportation Trilateral” held on April 27 in Tucson appears to have gone a long way toward realizing the North American continental transportation vision first articulated by the CFR and Pastor.
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