In resuming the North American Tripartite Summits five years later, US President Joe Biden joined his Mexican and Canadian counterparts in declaring that their countries can work together and demonstrate that “democracies are performing,” even as they try to resolve their differences on many key issues.
But even as Biden, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador spoke of their mutual respect, the three personalities also found themselves grappling with new disagreements over trade, immigration and climate change, among other things.
“We can meet all challenges if we take the time to talk to each other and work together,” said Biden, who welcomed his neighbors in what was a nearly annual tradition in the decade before former President Donald Trump took office.
It was a diplomatic day that required careful choreography, as Trudeau and Lopez Obrador met separately with Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris before their three-way meeting in the East Room of the White House, where there was a mix of English, French and Spanish.
As they glorified the strengths of their alliance, disagreements arose as well.
These include differences between Washington and Ottawa over proposing tax incentives that would benefit American electric car manufacturers, Lopez Obrador’s frustration with the United States’ reluctance to issue more temporary work visas at a time when American companies are complaining of a labor shortage, and US disappointment. States and Canada with the fact that Mexico does not act with greater urgency in the fight against climate change.
Biden first met Trudeau, and he said the relationship between the two countries was one of the simplest during the first months of his rule.
But the US president also stressed that they should discuss controversies over the proposed tax incentives for electric cars included in his massive social services and climate change initiative.
“We’ll talk about that,” Biden said. And it was not even approved in the House of Representatives.”
The proposal in question would provide US consumers with a $7,500 tax credit if they purchase electric cars through 2026. The following year, only electric car purchases made in the US will be eligible for the credit.
The base credit would increase by $4,500 if the car was manufactured in a US factory operating under a collective bargaining agreement negotiated with the unions.
Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland on Wednesday described the stimulus as a clear violation of the updated trilateral trade agreement.
Trump had a distant relationship with Lopez Obrador’s predecessor: Enrique Peña Nieto, who pressed him to never announce that Mexico would not pay for the wall on the border between the two countries.
But Lopez Obrador seems to have come to terms with Trump in this sense: Mexico has been slowing the flow of Central American migrants trying to reach the southern border of the United States, and Trump has been turning a blind eye to practically every other aspect of this complexity. The relationship between the two countries.
Lopez Obrador spoke warmly of Biden by appearing on camera at the start of their meeting on Thursday. The two presidents discussed Mexico’s relations with the United States during the governments of Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt, in front of the two photographs that Biden hung in the Oval Office.
The Mexican president has praised Biden for treating his government with respect, which he stressed has not always been the case in the two countries’ longstanding relationship, and for including money in his budget for immigration reform. However, he also hinted at his desire for the United States to act more prominently on the issue of temporary visas.
Lopez Obrador has also repeatedly indicated his interest in expanding the US government’s temporary work visa program so that more Mexicans and Central Americans can meet the demand for labor in the United States.
In contrast, temporary workers can earn more salaries from the United States without having to join the flow of illegal immigrants.
We must “stop rejecting immigrants when, in order to grow, you need a workforce that is not really enough either in the United States or in Canada. Why not study the demand for labor and open the flow of immigration in an orderly way?” declared Lopez Obrador.
The meetings at the White House mark the first three-way meeting between North American leaders since Trudeau, Barack Obama and Peña Nieto met in Ottawa in June 2016. The traditional summit began when George W. Bush welcomed Mexican President Vicente Fox and with Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin at his Waco, Texas, ranch in 2005 .
Mexico’s priorities for the meeting were to make tangible progress on immigration and more equitable access to vaccines against COVID-19.
The United States and Canada have expressed frustration that Lopez Obrador has not joined the global effort to reduce emissions that cause climate change.
The Mexican president did not attend this month’s UN climate summit in Glasgow, accusing rich nations of “hypocrisy” when it comes to caring for the environment.
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