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Mexico's Calderon: North America Must Integrate More To Compete

Published Friday, 4th March 2011 05:39 am - © 2011 Dow Jones


By Tom Barkley

Of Dow Jones NEWSWIRES

WASHINGTON -(Dow Jones)- Mexican President Felipe Calderon said Thursday that North American economies must pursue further integration to compete with Asia and the rest of the world.

"We must understand that true competition lies not between us, but between our region and the rest of the world," Calderon said in a speech following a bilateral meeting with President Barack Obama.

The two leaders dealt with one of the thornier economic disputes between the two countries over the past couple of decades, announcing a pilot program to let some Mexican cargo trucks back into the U.S. The breakthrough would lead to a phased easing of the more than $2 billion in tariffs that Mexico imposed on U.S. imports.

Calderon didn't directly address the cross-border trucking deal in the speech, but said that Mexico, the U.S. and Canada must integrate beyond the North American Free Trade Agreement to compete against Asia and Europe.

He also called for a legal framework in the U.S. to address the growing problem of illegal immigration, saying the lack of a comprehensive solution has led to some states imposing their own policies.

"The current North American immigration system has become the new bottleneck for growth and prosperity in the region," he said.

Likewise, Calderon said efforts to combat the drug trade must come from both sides of the border.

"We have found renewed cooperation to face this problem in the Obama administration, but there is no doubt that more must be done and very soon," he said.

Calderon urged the U.S. to make further progress in dismantling the finances of drug traffickers, reducing demand for drugs in the U.S., and stopping the flow of assault weapons into Mexico.

-By Tom Barkley, Dow Jones Newswires; 202-862-9275; tom.barkley@dowjones.com

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