United States of Great Lakes!

Submitted by SadInAmerica on Mon, 03/24/2008 - 6:33pm.

A report from a prestigious U.S. think-tank released Sunday argues that Canada and the U.S. should work together with the aim of creating a common market for commerce and labour by 2030 for the states and provinces in the Great Lakes basin.

It also takes aim at obstacles to trade in the region, such as traffic congestion at the Ambassador Bridge linking Windsor and Detroit.

The Brookings Institution, in a paper entitled the Vital Connection, Reclaiming Great Lakes Economic Leadership in the Bi-National U.S. Canadian Region, notes that even though the manufacturing base of the region has eroded in recent years, it is still a heavyweight.

"If it stood alone as a country," says the report, "it would be the second biggest economic unit on Earth, second only to the U.S. economy as a whole and larger than Japan, the rising powers of China and India, and the traditional heavyweights of Germany and the U.K."

Still, the losses have been steep, reads the report: "more than one-third of U.S. manufacturing job losses between 2000 and 2005 occurred in seven Great Lakes states: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin."

The report wants both countries to get cracking.

It urges that by 2010, two initiatives should be underway. First, a bi-national innovation strategy and second, a plan to redevelop what it calls "North America's freshwater coast."

It notes that states and provinces in the basin have too narrow a perspective. "States, provinces, and localities all have parochial and unconnected economic development plans to capitalize on their waterfronts. Existing bi-national organizations charged with Great Lakes stewardship are either focused solely on water preservation or too hamstrung by their particular organizational history and politics to focus on regionwide water-based economic development," it says.

"Governmental structures within each country and between the United States and Canada are not necessarily aligned to facilitate strong cross-boundary economic development planning and decision-making. A comprehensive proposal to leverage the natural and environmental and historical amenities of the entire Great Lakes region could garner a critical mass of political support and provide needed scope and attention to these precious assets."

But the report admits that could be a challenge, politically.

"Such a program," it states, "requires a politically charged enabling authority, a mandate, and resources to organize and create strong incentives for regional water-based economic development."

The institute notes that since 9-11, increased security along the border has been an impediment to the flow of goods and people.

It urges Canada and the U.S. to establish a panel of experts to formulate a strategic and operational plan for the border.

'Seamless border'

Under this plan, by 2015, Canada and the U.S. should have mutually recognized credentials and identification to allow for the secure and unhindered movement of people across the border. As well, within seven years, the report envisages what it calls "seamless border pre-clearance of U.S.-Canadian goods transported as part of a comprehensive North American customs clearance system or fully compatible national systems."

Part of that process, the report argues, is for the president and prime minister to strike a task force to eliminate such transportation bottlenecks as the Ambassador Bridge.

As well, the report urges high-speed rail links between key cities in the Great Lakes basin, although it doesn't mention any by name.

The environment also gets its due in the report with recommendations that include clear regional standards for greenhouse gases and a bi-national cap-and-trade system for carbon monoxide and other greenhouse gases.

By 2030, the Brookings Institute recommends, both countries should have what it calls a "next-generation NAFTA."

"This can be accomplished by accelerating and elevating the priority of current discussions concerning goods and services regulatory harmonization, and focusing new agreements on the most valuable economic resources of the region -- the region's human capital. Such agreements should help the region to both grow its workers' talents and skills and to increase the ability to provide them with flexibility and security in their persons, health care, and pensions."

The Brookings Institution is a non-profit public policy research organization based in Washington, D.C.


Source - Canada.com - March 24, 2008 - posted at www.blacklistednews.com

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Submitted by SadInAmerica on Mon, 03/24/2008 - 6:33pm.