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Fact Sheet: North American Competitiveness and Innovation

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today participated in a trilateral meeting with Canada’s Minister of International Trade Ed Fast and Mexico’s Secretary of Economy Ildefonso Guajardo as part of the fourth edition of the North American Competitiveness and Innovation Conference (NACIC). During the meeting the three leaders discussed ways to create a more integrated commercial and economic platform throughout the continent.   

In addition to taking stock of progress made on existing initiatives, the three leaders agreed on several new areas for cooperation, including:

  • Broadening support for entrepreneurs, especially women;
  • Analyzing and leveraging the future of economic data to enhance commercial and economic competitiveness; and
  • Creating a process to engage on promoting cybersecurity practices throughout the commercial sector that can apply across country boundaries.

Today’s conversation also underscored the three governments commitments to improving North America’s ecosystem of entrepreneurship and innovation, since doing so will increase economic growth and shared prosperity, and build upon the impressive progress the United States, Mexico, and Canada have made together over the past 20 years.

FACT SHEET: North American Competitiveness and Innovation

The United States, Canada, and Mexico are partners in North America -- one of the most competitive and successful regional economic platforms in the world.  We are neighbors, strategic allies, and each other’s largest trading partners.  In an increasingly unstable world, our strong economic relationship provides a solid foundation for prosperity and peace in North America and throughout the world.

As the 20th anniversary of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) draws to a close, we realize how integrated our economies have become and the success of our bold NAFTA experiment.  Last year, the United States traded about $1.4 trillion in goods with Canada and Mexico, which amounts to more than $3.6 billion in trade a day with our NAFTA partners.  Regional investment levels tell another success story.  Canada and Mexico’s total stock of foreign direct investment in the United States totaled $280.5 and $32.9 billion respectively in 2013, up more than 32 percent since 2009.

Today Secretary Pritzker met in Toronto, Canada, with Canadian Minister of International Trade Ed Fast and Mexican Secretary of Economy Ildefonso Guajardo Villareal at the fourth North American Competitiveness and Innovation Conference (NACIC) to advance the North American competitiveness agenda and ensure that our governments are creating the conditions to support jobs and promote economic growth.  The NACIC is the primary venue for business and government leaders to address issues central to North America’s economy and competitiveness.  Results from the NACIC feed directly into the North America Leaders’ Summit – an annual meeting of North America’s heads of government.  Last year, Leaders highlighted broad-based, sustainable economic growth and job creation as priority areas for cooperation.

The United States, Canada, and Mexico have achieved success in several tangible areas since the 2013 NACIC in San Diego.  Three areas are noteworthy: 1) we are promoting the advantages of investing in North America; 2) we continue to foster an ecosystem of entrepreneurship and innovation; and 3) we are improving the efficiencies of cross-border trade and travel. 

Investing in North America

The United States, Canada, and Mexico are increasingly investing in each other’s economies to provide capital to business ventures and build macroeconomic stability in the region.  For example, Magna Powertrain, an automotive industry supplier, headquartered in Aurora, Ontario, recently announced it will expand its facility in Muncie, Indiana to produce powertrain systems and components.  The company will invest $15.5 million and create 50 new jobs there by December 2015.  Joint investment promotion – or promoting investment into North America from countries outside the continent – will continue to be a focus. Since 2003, nearly 14,000 projects have been announced in North America by outside parties, representing $724.8 billion in capital investment.

Entrepreneurship and Innovation

On entrepreneurship and innovation, by the end of 2014, Canada, Mexico and the United States will each have hosted business and government leaders from the other countries to share knowledge and best practices about innovation incubators, technology accelerators, and how public-private partnerships can revitalize economic regions.  With many business and regions still recovering from the global economic slowdown, these innovative exchanges are important to ensuring that new business creation can lead to future growth.  The exchanges have allowed regions to showcase how they have transformed their economies for the better.  For example, the city of Conover, NC – historically a textile production center – is now an advanced manufacturing solutions hub that tests products for Target, Nike, Reebok, and thousands other of companies worldwide. The exchanges that each country has hosted have yielded cross-border partnerships, supported advanced manufacturing, and fostered innovation and entrepreneurship.  As one example, after participating in the Commerce Department- organized Americas Competitiveness Exchange in the Southeastern United States, the CEO of a Mexican medical device start-up is now partnering with the Global Center for Medical Innovation and Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research.

Improving Cross-Border Trade and Travel

No reference to enhancing North American commerce is complete without citing the importance of the North American supply chain and the need to further facilitate legitimate cross-border travel and trade.  Given our interconnectedness and the sheer amount of co-production that takes place throughout North America, it is paramount that borders operate safely and efficiently.  All three countries are working to improve efficiencies and lower costs for North American travelers and businesses.  We are working to reduce border wait times through trusted trader and trusted traveler programs.  Membership in the U.S.-Canada NEXUS program – the bilateral trusted traveler program between the United States and Canada – allows pre-screened, low-risk travelers to proceed with little or no delay across the border.  NEXUS membership has increased by nearly 50 percent since 2011, and in July 2014 NEXUS enrolled its one-millionth member.  For trusted traders, the United States and Mexico signed a Mutual Recognition Agreement in October 2014 to recognize each other’s trusted trader programs – the U.S. program is the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT), and Mexico’s program is the New Scheme for Certified Business (NEEC).  This mutual recognition will allow businesses that meet program requirements to move more efficiently across the U.S.-Mexico border.  These are precisely the kinds of efficiencies that can be achieved North American government and business leaders work together.

New Areas of Cooperation

In addition to taking stock of progress on existing initiatives, our three countries discussed avenues for future cooperation to further enhance the North American commercial platform. Areas discussed include: analyzing the future of economic data collection; further advancing trilateral cooperation on entrepreneurship and innovation; advancing the economic empowerment of women; ensuring the interoperability of our cluster maps; and expanding our outreach efforts in globalized metropolitan areas. The three countries also committed to cooperating with the private sector to disseminate information on how our trilateral cooperation will increase the competitiveness of North American businesses.

The NACIC is the premier forum for the discussion and advancement of issues related to commercial and economic competitiveness in North America.  The event features senior government officials and hosts several hundred policy experts and business executives tasked with informing and contributing to the development and advancement of a “North American Work Plan” for competitiveness and innovation.  This year’s event in Ottawa was the fourth edition of the NACIC.