A NORTH AMERICAN COMMON MARKET:
A CANADIAN PERSPECTIVE
There is no doubt that a North American common market would bring benefits to all three potential participants. In the case of Canada, it would guarantee security of access to the United States market for its goods, open up the Mexican market to Canadian exports and, through a common trade and external commercial policy, enable Canada to benefit from the power and influence of the United States in dealing with international protectionism and the devastating (Canadian) problem of agricultural subsidies.
But there is also a downside for Canada that results from the radical degree of liberalization and consequently high level of policy harmonization that such a common market would involve. The view presented here-- which is, likely, a majority view in Canada--is that the downside outweighs the advantages, and that the price of Canadian participation in a North American common market in terms of disruption of the Canadian social fabric and loss of Canadian autonomy is too high to be acceptable. The participation of Mexico would bring certain benefits to Canada, but not enough to shift the scales; it would also bring additional problems.
The topic of a North American common market is dealt with first from a bilateral U.S.-Canadian point of view, and then the question of Mexican participation will be considered.
To appreciate Canadian concerns about a North American common market, it is first necessary to understand a little more about Canada and how it differs from the United States.