VIII Symposium Nov. 15-17, 2023 Mexico City

The North American Integration process refers to deepening economic, political, and social ties among the countries of Canada, Mexico, and the United States.  Trade agreements play a crucial role in fostering integration, beginning with the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement (CUSFTA) in 1989, the US and Canada eliminated many tariffs and trade barriers between the two countries.  CUSFTA was later replaced by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1992, which went into effect in 1994.  NAFTA aimed to eliminate most barriers to trade among the three nations, as well as promote fair competition and protect intellectual property rights.

Aside from the trade agreements, other forms of cooperation began to form, such as the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (1994) or the Security and Partnership of North America (2005) have enhanced cooperation on the environment, security, border infrastructure transportation, and energy. 

In 2018, the integration process continued to evolve, updating NAFTA through renegotiations that gave way to the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) officially replacing NAFTA.  The USMCA addressed several concerns, including labor and environmental standards, the automotive industry, digital trade, and intellectual property protection. 

The North American Process Symposium (NAP) began in 2013, with the participation of Arizona State University, the University of Calgary, and Anahuac Mexico University to promote the North American incorporation process.  Over the last decade, the symposium has convened experts and practitioners from industry and government to discuss issues surrounding North American integration to discuss trade, competitiveness, energy, and other trilateral issues that require innovative policy solutions. 

The first seven symposiums brought together academics, business groups, and government officials from the three countries to address challenges related to trade, border security, and competitiveness in (and of) the region.  Participants emphasized the importance of overcoming bureaucracies and inefficiency and developing “smart” security measures to facilitate trade.  Participants followed and commented on the modernization of NAFTA to USMCA, recommending policies that would enhance collaboration at the local and regional levels. 

In 2022, the symposium welcomed a new Canadian partner, Carleton University, to continue building and strengthening collaboration with Arizona State University and Anahuac Mexico University. The next symposium is planned for November 2023 in Mexico City. 

The symposium will continue to foster ongoing dialogue and produce concrete recommendations for advancing North American Integration, collaboration, and competitiveness.  It will provide a venue to discuss critical issues through seminars, round-table discussions, and workshops.  Over the course of the 3-day in-person meeting, academics, government officials, business executives, business organizations, and non-governmental organizations will prioritize and discuss pressing issues of trilateral cooperation.  These will be distributed among 5 working groups (themed tracks) with the following topics:

  1. Trade (i.e., nearshoring and supply mapping),
  2. Security (i.e., data, technology, cross-national violence),
  3. Migration and immigration (i.e., Human trafficking, public affairs, refugees, transitional justice)
  4. Energy (i.e., security, regulation, clean transition),
  5. Water (i.e., cross-border management, pollution).   

The working groups will hold at least two meetings during the year to follow up on the recommendations given during the symposium. The symposium aims to consolidate an academic space where researchers, staff, and students from the previously mentioned universities could benefit from exchanges, joint research projects, investigation networks, and publications. Furthermore, it is also essential to develop white papers or policy recommendations that public administrations could use at the federal, state, and local levels in the three countries. The conference also aims to provide an interactive forum for NGOs and other actors interested in the topics.