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India, China challenge for NAFTA: Bush

US President said rise of the two Asian giants as economic powerhouses poses prosperity challenges like never before.

india Updated: Apr 01, 2006 13:13 IST

US President George W Bush has said that with the emergence of India and China as economic powerhouses member-countries of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) face "prosperity challenges".

At a NAFTA meeting in Cancun, Mexico, Bush said these countries "face prosperity challenges from abroad like never before," including the emergence of China and India as economic powers.

"We should not fear these challenges, we ought to welcome them, and position ourselves so that we can compete," Bush said.

"We have got big goals for this very important relationship," he added.

NAFTA groups Canada, the US and Mexico.

He called the NAFTA meet "one of the most productive" the leaders of the US, Canada and Mexico have had. Trade, border security, bird flu and energy were among the issues discussed.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper called the talks "productive," adding that the leaders were "guided by common principles."

Mexican president Vicente Fox discussed border security, saying it is "a problem and a challenge shared by the three countries."

As the US Senate is debating immigration reform this week, many people in Mexico and immigrants in the US are upset over certain proposals that have been floated. These include deporting the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the US and building a protective fence along large parts of the US-Mexican border.

Bush paid tribute to the millions of Mexicans and other Latin Americans who have been integrated into the US job market, where they do work that American citizens will not do.

Fox expressed confidence that a joint effort by Mexico, Canada and the US would shut down drug cartels and other organised crime gangs in boosting border security.