The SPP: North American Border Security and Commerce

The SPP: North American Border Security and Commerce

On Feb. 23, senior officials from Canada, Mexico, and the United States met to discuss ways to counter cross-border security threats while enhancing continental commerce as part of the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP). U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Canadian Foreign Minister Peter MacKay, and Mexican Foreign Secretary Patricia Espinosa also made further preparations for a third summit among their heads of government later this year.

Since the SPP began in March 2005, its core implementation element has consisted of trilateral working groups. Those engaged in the "Security Dialogue" address such issues as common transnational threats, developing integrated emergency-response strategies, and facilitating the secure shipment of goods. The working groups associated with the "Prosperity Dialogue" pursue such objectives as harmonizing business and trade regulations, encouraging cooperation among partner companies, and expanding cooperation on environmental, energy and health issues.

Certain figures make evident the importance of the SPP. Trade between the United States and both Canada and Mexico has steadily risen during the past twelve years. Legal cross-border trade between Mexico and the United States amounted to almost $225 billion in 2004, nearly double the 1998 figure. In the north, Canada remains the largest export market for U.S. goods -- making up a larger market than Britain, France, Germany, Japan, and China combined.

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