This year’s fourth annual North American Competitiveness & Innovation Conference took place on October 30 and 31 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Representatives from NAFTA partner countries met to discuss emerging opportunities, developments in the North American energy sector, innovation in manufacturing technology, border trade facilitation and security issues, as well as a host of other topics relevant to the conduct of business between the three nations. Also highlighted at the event was the importance of the role that the NAFTA partner countries play on the global economic stage.

Mexico’s Undersecretary of the Economy, Francisco Rosenzweig, revealed to those in attendance that, between them, NAFTA partner countries accounted for twenty-seven percent of global GDP and fifteen percent of the world’s total international commerce in 2013. Trade with its NAFTA partner countries accounted for more than sixty-six percent of its overall foreign trade for the same year. During the first half of 2014, Mexico’s commercial exchange with its North American neighbors, the United States and Canada, totaled in excess of US $349 billion. He cited that among the items that Mexico most exports to Canada and the United States are crude oil, passenger vehicles, auto parts and other items related to the transportation industry. The purpose of the annual meeting is to develop and implement plans and strategies to enhance the global competitiveness of the three countries acting in concert as a trading bloc.

An issue of primary importance that was also discussed by trade representatives of the three countries was that of the Trans Pacific Partnership. The TPP has, thus far, has consisted of a series of talks between twelve Asian-Pacific countries, which include Canada, the U.S. and Mexico that began in 2008. These countries, as well as others that are entering the negotiation process such as Australia, Brunei, Chile Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam aim to forge an free trade agreement that would be comprised of over forty-percent of global GDP. Principal among points under negotiation are those dealing with intellectual property, agricultural sector rules and regulations, labor and environmental standards, and the role and treatment of state-owned

The North American Competitiveness & Innovation Conference hosted group of more than fifty speakers each of the NAFTA partner countries, and was organized by the American Chamber of Commerce in Canada, the Canadian International Council, the U.S. Department of Commerce and Foreign Affairs and Trade and Development Canada. Featured speakers included Canada’s Minister of International Trade, Ed Fast; the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Penny Pritzker; and Ildefonso Guajardo, the Mexican Secretary of the Economy.