Five economic issues discussed by Trudeau, Obama and Pena Nieto during summit

OTTAWA – The leaders of Canada, the United States and Mexico discussed several economic issues Wednesday during the North American Leaders’ Summit in Ottawa.

Here are five things linked to the economy that came up during Justin Trudeau’s meeting with Barack Obama and Enrique Pena Nieto, as described by a communique from the Prime Minister’s Office:

1. The leaders committed to address border issues and help businesses by aligning their customs processes and requirements as much as possible. Customs authorities in each country are working toward providing businesses with a “national single window online portal” where they can submit information required to comply with respective border regulations. The leaders also agreed to launch a joint study to prioritize and propose implementation strategies with a goal of determining whether alignment is possible.

2. They signed a memorandum of understanding to strengthen women’s entrepreneurship in North America by helping promote and expand women-owned companies across the continent. They will also aim to improve women’s access to global value chains and to international trade. They also called for a boost to mentorship and the sponsorship of a Canadian-American trade mission to Mexico for businesswomen by 2017.

3. The leaders agreed to promote something called “cluster asset mapping,” which is described as “an activity that helps policymakers, businesses, and other stakeholders gain a solid understanding of a region’s economic strengths and opportunities.” The maps are designed to pinpoint clusters of interconnected companies and suppliers as a way to help firms grow their labour and supply chains. A goal is to help back local efforts to build and attract new industries.

4. On the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the leaders will work to complete their respective domestic processes. Obama and Pena Nieto have endorsed the controversial 12-country Pacific Rim treaty. The Trudeau government, however, has indicated a review of the deal, negotiated by the Conservatives, is necessary before Canada ratifies it.

5. The countries agreed to make amendments to the rules of origin in the North American Free Trade Agreement. The changes are aimed at liberalizing rules of origin, and reducing costs, for products such as pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, rubber, metals, industrial and electrical machinery, precision instruments, and natural gas. Such goods make up $166 billion per year in trilateral trade.