U.S. State Department
WASHINGTON — A largely unreported meeting held at the State Department discussed integration of the U.S., Mexico and Canada in concert with a move toward a transatlantic union, linking a North American community with the European Union.
The meeting was held Monday under the auspices of the Advisory Committee on International Economic Policy, or ACIEP. WND obtained press credentials and attended as an observer. The meeting was held under “Chatham House” rules that prohibit reporters from attributing specific comments to individual participants.
The State Department website noted the meeting was opened by Assistant Secretary of State for Economic, Energy and Business Affairs Daniel S. Sullivan and ACIEP Chairman Michael Gadbaw, vice president and senior counsel for General Electric’s International Law & Policy group since December 1990.
WND observed about 25 ACIEP members, including U.S. corporations involved in international trade, prominent U.S. business trade groups, law firms involved with international business law, international investment firms and other international trade consultants.
No members of Congress attended the meeting.
The agenda for the ACIEP meeting was not published, and State Department officials in attendance could not give WND permission under Chatham House rules to publish the agenda.
The meeting agenda included topics reviewing the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America, or SPP, and the U.S.-EU Transatlantic Economic Council, or TEC.
The SPP, declared by the U.S., Canada and Mexico at a summit meeting in 2005, has 20 trilateral bureaucratic working groups that seek to “integrate and harmonize” administrative rules and regulations on a continental basis.
Several participants said the premise of the SPP is to create a North American business platform to benefit North America-based multi-national companies the way the European Union benefits its own.
Others noted the premise of the TEC is to create a convergence of administrative rules and regulations between Europe and North America, anticipating the creation of a “Transatlantic Economic Union” between the European Union and North America.
Participants pointed out that transatlantic trade is currently 40 percent of all world trade. They argue that trade and non-trade barriers need to be further reduced to maintain that market share as a framework is put in place to advance transatlantic economic integration.
Still, some participants argued that many corporations in North America already have moved beyond a North American focus to adopt a global perspective that transcends even the Transatlantic market.
“Supply chains and markets are everywhere,” one participant asserted. “What’s to stop global corporations from going after the cheapest labor available globally, wherever they can find it, provided the cost of transporting goods globally can be managed economically?”
Other participants argued regional alliances were still important, if only to put in place the institutional bases that ultimately would lead to global governance on uniform global administrative regulations favorable to multi-national corporations.
“North America should be a premiere platform to establish continental institutions,” a participant said. “That’s why we need to move the security perimeters to include the whole continent, especially as we open the borders between North American countries for expanding free trade.”
One presentation on the agenda identified four reasons why administrative rules and regulations need to be integrated by SPP in North America and by the Transatlantic Economic Council, bridging together European Union and North American markets:
The discussion pointed out the SPP trilateral working groups and the Transatlantic Economic Council were being supported by top-level Cabinet officers and the heads of state in both the EU and in North America.
Progress in EU-U.S. regulatory integration was noted in financial market coordination, investment rule cohesion, trade security measures and efforts undertaken recently to preserve intellectual property rights.
Before the meeting began, concerns were raised informally by participants worried that the Ohio Democratic Party primary had prompted both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to talk of renegotiating NAFTA.
Participants at the State Department meeting pointed out U.S. political candidates could be expected to argue “protectionist themes opposed to global economic integration” as a tactic, without necessarily being committed to taking aggressive steps once in office.
“The political dialogue misses the point of economic reality,” one participant argued. “There is a J-curve correlation between when a currency like the U.S. dollar depreciates and when exports kick in to increase. We should accelerate the J-curve and our discussion about it, to help the local politics catch up with the international reality.”
Part of the discussion was devoted to concerns that national regulators in North America and Europe were too reluctant to abandon provincial regulatory advantages.
“Regulators by nature are advocates, and they are hard to move,” one participant grumbled. “What we need is more diplomats and negotiators to identify solutions, otherwise the bureaucrats will bog down the progress we need to see coming out of the SPP and TEC.”
“North America is already an integrated continental economy and a continental-wide business platform,” another said. “What we need now is more regulatory convergence. ‘Harmonized’ should mean that once approved, the same set of administrative regulations and procedures ought to be ready throughout NAFTA, SPP and the TEC.”
As WND previously reported, the Transatlantic Economic Council, or TEC, was created by President Bush at an April 30 summit meeting at the White House with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the current president of the European Council, and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.
WND also reported the Transatlantic Policy Network, a non-governmental organization headquartered in Washington and Brussels and advised by a bi-partisan congressional policy group chaired by Sen. Robert Bennett, R-Utah, has called for the creation of a Transatlantic Common Market between the U.S. and the European Union by 2015.
A complete membership list of the current 60-person Advisory Committee on International Policy is published on the State Department website.
ACIEP members include corporate officers from General Electric, Exxon Mobil, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Archer Daniels Midland, United Parcel Service, Citibank, Proctor & Gamble, Hunt Oil, CMS Energy, Boeing, 3M, Goldman Sachs and Cargill.
The most recent “Summary of Discussions” published on the Department of State website was for the Dec. 18 ACIEP meeting.
A published article on the State Department website includes photographs of the Dec. 18 ACIEP meeting, listing by name several participants who were photographed in attendance.