Carving a Path to [North American] Regional Governance

Research By D. Niwa

The United States, Canada, and Mexico are being steered toward yet another "process" of regional integration via proposals to form a North American "customs union" with a "common external tariff." [1] [2]

A "customs union" is one in a series of steps that lead nation-participants toward establishing regional government. In its 2003 Labour Review [3], the International Labour Organization (ILO; a United Nations agency) describes such a regional entity as a "supra-national authority whose decisions are binding for member states." (p. 63)

The "supra-national authority" is the final stage after taking specific actions that are part of ła generally accepted classification system for integration" that consists "of several steps or successive phases of increasing complexity.˛ (p. 63)

The last level -- when a "supra-national"/aka regional government is set up -- is where a nation ceases to be sovereign / autonomous.

The 2003 Labour Review cites 6 levels of the economic integration process (p. 63) [emphasis added]:

Level 1: "preferential economic areas or zones, where trade advantages exist among the participating countries, but without negotiations regarding key trade aspects between the signers."

Level 2: "the free trade zone or area, in which tariff and non-tariff measures are usually eliminated between member countries, although each member maintains these restrictions when trading with non-participating countries."

Level 3: "the customs union, which eliminates restrictions on the circulation of goods from member countries and imposes a common external tariff on imports from non-member countries."

Level 4: "the common market, where commodities, capital and workers circulate freely."

[Note that on page 64 it says: "... in the common market, the free circulation of workers in all member countries is a deliberate objective, something that does not occur with free trade agreements. In Europe, which was a common market before becoming an economic union, workers circulated well before capitals and services did so." ]

Level 5: "The economic union . . ., in addition to the aforementioned aspects, economic policies are harmonized in terms of targets for inflation, fiscal deficits and others.

In the final level: "total economic integration establishes the unification of monetary, fiscal, labour, social and environmental policies with a supra-national authority whose decisions are binding for member states."


[I encourage everyone to go to the sources cited below that contain info that will contribute to one's knowledge about how a North American Union (and Western Hemisphere Union) is being established through the workings of international labor issues and multinational trade agreements]

[1] June 9, 2005: Dr. Robert A Pastor (Vice President of International Affairs, Professor, and Director of the Center for North American Studies, American University. Washington, D.C.) was invited by the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee (Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere) to give his testimony -- titled "A North American Community Approach to Security." In his testimony, Pastor says of the United States, Mexico, and Canada:

"The three governments should negotiate and complete within five years a North American customs union with a common external tariff (CET)." <>   

[2] Jan. 25, 2007: Lou Dobbs interviewed Robert Pastor who co-chaired the CFR task force that produced the "Building a North America Community" report. Dobbs mentions that CFR president Richard Haass stated:

"The Task Force's central recommendation is establishment by 2010 of a North American economic and security of community, the boundaries of which would be defined by a common external tariff and an outer security perimeter."

During the interview, Pastor says [emphasis added]:

"I think the vision defined in that [CFR] report is one of three sovereign nations cooperating with each other to deepen economic integration, to create a common external tariff . . . "

Pastor also says during the interview: "I think we should move towards to negotiate a customs union. A common external tariff."

Read the full transcript: < 

European Union:  Stages of Development (pdf)




[3] 2003 Labour Review, Latin America and the Caribbean, (1st edition 2003, ISBN 92-2-115256-1 (web pdf version)). Read chapter titled "Labour Aspects Associated with Integration Processes and Free Trade Agreements in the Region," pages 63-70. <>   Note:  link no longer works but the document was captured and now resides on the channelingreality website (link above embedded in text).