Obama Hosts Calderon, Harper to Boost N. American Economy

Obama Hosts Calderon, Harper to Boost North American Economy
Mexican President Felipe Calderon, left, President Barack Obama, and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper come out from the Oval Office for a joint press conference in the Rose Garden of the White House April 2, 2012 in Washington. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The leaders of the U.S., Canada and Mexico concluded private talks at a White House summit by promising to overhaul rules and expand trade in ways that would boost jobs in North America.

“Our three nations are launching a new effort to get rid of outdated regulations that stifle job creation,” President Barack Obama said at a press conference yesterday with Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada and President Felipe Calderon of Mexico. Trade among the three nations exceeded $1 trillion last year for the first time, Obama said, supporting 2.5 million U.S. jobs.

Trade and economic ministers are scheduled to begin work immediately to comb through regulations of all three nations to abolish or simplify them to “make our joint economies stronger,” Obama said.

This would augment other efforts to reduce transaction costs and improve trade in such areas as vehicle emission standards, railroad safety and harmonizing rules on workplace chemicals, according to a statement by the three countries.

The leaders denounced increased violence and trade in drugs affecting the borders of all three nations. Obama said his administration accepts responsibility for U.S. drug demand and said he has accelerated the delivery of equipment to help Mexico battle drug cartels.

Calderon said the expiration of a U.S. ban on assault weapons coincided with an increase in crime and violence.

Assault Weapons

“If we don’t have mechanisms to forbid the sale of weapons, such as we had in the 1990s, or for registry of guns, at least for assault weapons, then we are never going to be able to stop the violence in Mexico,” Calderon said through a translator.

The three men pledged to work together to curb violence.

Calderon and Harper also expressed a desire to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership on trade. Obama acknowledged the interest but made no commitment.

The U.S., which is leading the talks, hasn’t said yet if it will let Canada and Mexico into the proposed free-trade deal that involves Chile, Vietnam, Australia, Peru, Singapore, Malaysia, New Zealand and Brunei. The nine nations already involved in the discussions would need to reach consensus on any new members joining the negotiations.

The U.S. administration has said the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would be the biggest trade accord for the U.S. since 1994 when Nafta took effect, is a top priority.

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