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North American Free Trade Agreement

December 8, 2011 by staff 

North American Free Trade Agreement, EVER since an unsuccessful attempt by the United States to conquer Canada in the war of 1812, Canadians have worried that Americans harbour ambitions to control, if not to own, their territory. This means that bilateral accords, of which there are some 698 on file, are jealously examined for their impact on Canadian sovereignty.

The latest deal, called Beyond the Border and announced by Stephen Harper, Canada’s prime minister, and President Barack Obama in Washington on December 7th, will attract particular scrutiny, because it involves not just trade but the sensitive issue of shared security.

Mr Harper’s aim in seeking the deal was to dismantle at least some of the restrictions that have piled up at the border in the name of security since the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001. The United States has agreed to do so if Canada meets its security concerns by providing more information on travellers, adopting US methods of baggage screening and exit controls, and harmonising a host of other security measures. A separate deal on regulations commits the two countries to work toward common standards on everything from food safety to locomotive emissions. “These agreements represent the most significant step forward in Canada-US co-operation since the North American Free-Trade Agreement (NAFTA),” says Mr Harper, whose goal was to protect Canada’s access to the American market.

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