In This Review

Toward a North American Community: Lessons from the Old World for the New
Toward a North American Community: Lessons from the Old World for the New
By Robert A. Pastor
Institute for International Economics, 2001, 250 pp.

Because of Pastor's links to previous Democratic administrations, the sensible proposals outlined here are not likely to find a receptive ear in the current White House. That would be a pity. This comprehensive account of NAFTA since its implementation in 1994 concludes that integration's rapid pace demands more concrete policy responses from Mexico, the United States, and Canada. Specifically, Pastor sees a need for both a "widening" and a "deepening" of NAFTA. "Widening" requires enlarging the market to permit larger economies of scale -- i.e., a Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). "Deepening" involves reducing internal trade barriers and distortions -- a more complicated task because it runs up against domestic politics and national identity. He then proposes a "North American Commission" of distinguished individuals appointed by the three NAFTA governments -- but who are not in government -- to formulate a comprehensive agenda. This approach would include a far-ranging plan for transportation and infrastructure (funded initially by the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank) and better management of cross-border flows of people, arms, and drugs. It would also create a development fund targeted at North America's poorest regions, just as the European Union has done for its poorer members. Despite the political difficulty of these initiatives, Pastor concludes, they are essential to the continent's future; as he correctly points out, "a problem in one part of North America can no longer be contained from affecting other parts."