U.S., Canadian, Mexican leaders share some quality time

| 3/31/2006

The two-day NAFTA summit was just what the three countries involved needed as their officials work on trade, immigration and border security, according to the throng of media attending the event in Cancun, Mexico.

The summit was scheduled to conclude Friday, March 31.

Each leader – President Bush, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Vicente Fox – had his own ideology to push during the first day of talks, but the meetings were optimistic and productive, according to CNN and The Canadian Press.

Bush spoke about the need for a guest-worker program, saying he expects a comprehensive bill on immigration and border security to make it to his desk in the near future for signing.

Bush favors some leniency on the 11 million or so Mexican immigrants who are working in the U.S. without proper paperwork. He said they provide stability in certain sectors and add to the economy.

The plan has its critics, and is being debated on Capitol Hill.

Harper, fresh from his Conservative Party’s victory in Canada’s federal election in January, went into the summit with the softwood lumber industry on his mind. Harper hopes to meet with Bush later to discuss the industry more closely and persuade the U.S. to lift a tariff on Canadian pine and spruce.

No doubt the agreements or lack thereof on immigration and trade will trickle down to the trucking industry.

Fox said the Mexican government has pledged to create jobs and boost the country’s economy as an incentive for more people to stay instead of seeking opportunities in the states.

That could also have an effect on North American trucking.

– By David Tanner, staff writer