Time for a North American Border Infrastructure Bank?
A recent report from the George W. Bush Institute and the Canada West Foundation makes the case for the establishment of a North American Border Infrastructure Bank (NABIB) focused on providing
financing and information to improve the trade competitiveness of North America.
The southern border of the United States already has an infrastructure bank, the North American Development Bank. “There is a need for an entity along the northern border, shared with Canada,” says the report. “While the southern one is focused on environment, the northern one will focus on creating and growing jobs.”
The premise of the argument is that products are manufactured by integrated supply and production chains that stretch across North American borders. These are sold in competition with goods produced by other trading blocs.
“Unnecessary inefficiencies in the movement of goods across North America’s borders add costs, suppress productivity and wages, limit global competitiveness, and threaten jobs,” the paper claims.
But planning, financing, and building border infrastructure has become increasingly difficult primarily for political reasons. Other trading blocs with integrated supply and production chains already have institutions that mitigate and manage political tensions and facilitate planning, financing, and building crossborder infrastructure to produce goods jointly.
These challenges can be met by the establishment of a NABIB. Such an institution would “focus solely,” according to the paper, on providing solutions to the challenges associated with “the movement of factors of production across borders in North America.” It would also finance border infrastructure—but not ports—in corridors and gateways such as bridges and customs plazas and coordinate among governments on the design, building, security protocols, regulation, and management of border infrastructure.
A NABIB would also engage the NAFTA partners in a permanent, jointly staffed and administered institution.
“These assumptions were tested through debate at a series of working group meetings organized by the George W. Bush Institute and the Canada West Foundation,” the report noted. “The goal was to provide a framework to help governments decide whether a NABIB is warranted and, if so, negotiate the terms for creating such an entity.”