chapter  14
16 Pages

North America: A Trilateral, Bilateral, or Unilateral Space?

Understood as one among a number of world regions, North America is an enigma displaying many diverse realities. Seen in its formal institutionalization by NAFTA, it is considerably less than meets the eye. When examined in such governance spheres as transborder water management or the steel industry, it turns out to have considerably more substance than one might first have suspected. In other cases, such as the regulation of financial services or intellectual property rights, what appears as continental policy harmonization is really a manifestation of globalization. In contrast, antiterrorist border security measures are just what they seem: US-driven inter-governmental policy co-ordination in which the hegemon ends up depending on the periphery’s collaboration. As for determining where North America is heading, global market consolidation in the automobile industry suggests that the continent has lost its chance to become a regional regulatory space. The 2005 Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) of North America may have renewed the three federal governments’ commitment to reconciling the US priority for border security with the periphery’s need for prosperity but it did not give any sign that North America was an embryonic EU about to develop along the lines of the European model.