Canada and Mexico punching below their weight in Washington

October 20, 2011

OTTAWA—Despite their moderate size – taken together, Canada and Mexico would only be the fifth largest of the world's economies – they are the major foreign source of the United States' wealth and security, says a report released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) which is based on Stephen Clarkson (University of Toronto) and Matto Mildenberger (Yale University)'s pioneering book Dependent America? How Canada and Mexico Construct US Power.

According to the report, without its markets and its investment in Canada and Mexico, the U.S. economy would be markedly smaller and less competitive. The two countries accounted for almost 27% of total U.S. exports in 2010 — more than the United States’ trade relationship with all 27 countries in the European Union and considerably more than its trading relationship with China.

“Slightly over 8 million U.S. jobs derive from U.S.-Canadian trade," Clarkson and Mildenberger note. “The average American is $1000 richer every year as a result.”

Canada and Mexico are also the United States' largest security allies. Without Canada’s and Mexico’s agreeing to harmonize their visa requirements, integrate their intelligence capacities, and invest billions on border infrastructure, the U.S. exposure to terrorist threats would increase markedly.

The paradox of North America is that, while Canada and Mexico make disproportionately large contributions to the United States’ economic strength and homeland security, they have virtually no influence in Washington's corridors of power, where U.S. policy is made with scant attention being paid to the two U.S. neighbours.

The report examines how Washington has neutered its neighbours’ capacity to leverage this material dependence into actual policy influence over it by shaping the political, economic, and military structures within which continental policy processes play out, thus preventing the periphery from emerging as a competitor.

At the same time, Canadian political and economic elites are fearful and supine when negotiating with their U.S. counterparts, typically caving in to U.S. demands. In short, Ottawa and Mexico punch below their weight in Washington.

“It is time for the Canadian and Mexican governments to approach their continental interests with a self-confidence that matches their countries' substantial and continuing contribution to American economic wealth, homeland security, and international effectiveness,” Clarkson and Mildenberger conclude.


Punching Below Their Weight: Why Canada and Mexico are so Important to the United States yet so Impotent in Washington is available on the CCPA website:

For more information contact Kerri-Anne Finn, CCPA Senior Communications Officer, at 613-563-1341 x306.