At the summit, the US, Canada and Mexico will address migration

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At the summit, the US, Canada and Mexico will address migration

WASHINGTON – President Biden will host Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador at the White House on Thursday, a diplomatic mission that seeks to settle a trade scramble, accusations of US protectionism and ongoing concerns over a boom. Is. Migration to the US-Mexico border.

The return of the summit after a five-year hiatus during the Trump administration signals a growing appetite among North American leaders to show a sense of strategic and economic solidarity amid increased competition from Asia and Europe.

The gathering also comes at a crucial moment for the United States, as the breakdown of global supply chains and people-to-people movements across the Americas make cooperation with Mexico and Canada more important than ever.

Three senior administration officials said on Wednesday that leaders will discuss creating more humane routes to asylum or job creation for migrants displaced by climate change or human trafficking, but will not discuss policies that are a flashpoint for immigration workers. have become, including a program that compels some people. Asylum seekers have to wait in Mexico while their cases are pending.

Asked how the problem of migration can be discussed without mentioning those programmes, an administration official said they cannot discuss pending court cases.

Officials spoke to reporters anonymously to outline the details of the summit.

“At the end of the day, getting back together will make the right impact,” said Tony Payne, director of the Mexico Center at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. “The bad news is that the issues are many more thorny.”

No agreement is expected over the ongoing disagreement over how each country handles its trade commitments. Since Mr Biden took office, the details of a Trump-era amendment to the North American Free Trade Agreement, called the United States Mexico Canada Agreement, have been in dispute. The agreement sought to update Mexico’s labor laws, encourage more auto production in North America, and open up Canadian markets to American dairy farmers.

In recent weeks, the Canadian government has argued that the tax credits offered to American consumers who buy American-made electric vehicles are in violation of the agreement. Speaking to reporters at a news conference on Monday, Mr Trudeau said the buyout-American ethos of the Biden administration was “adverse” to promoting commerce between the two countries.

“This is an issue that I have already outlined many times with President Biden and it will certainly be part of the important conversations that we will have later this week,” Trudeau said.

For its part, the Biden administration has accused the Canadian government of practices that favor Canadian dairy farmers and expressed concern that Mexico’s energy policies give state-owned companies an unfair advantage. Administration officials said Wednesday that Mr Biden plans to ratify USMCA provisions in support of labor rights protections, a reference to a dispute he settled against Mexico earlier this year.

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Officials expect agreements to be reached on vaccine sharing. One official said the leaders of Canada and Mexico would agree to share “millions” of doses with poor countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. The three countries will sign an agreement to reduce methane emissions in the oil and gas industries by 75 percent by 2030, and form a working group to address supply chain issues.

There will be more delicate discussions with Mr. López Obrador. Mexico, long an underdog in relations with its neighbors, has made substantial gains in a year that saw a wave of pandemic-fueled migration from Latin America. Mr Biden has had to rely more heavily on Mexico to keep the flow of people from the southwestern border and to house the thousands of migrants who might otherwise be headed north.

For Biden officials, the importance of maintaining strong Mexican enforcement was made clear in September, when thousands of Haitians moved across the border to Texas.

“The balance of power between the Mexican government and the US government has shifted because of the circumstances,” said Duncan Wood, vice president of strategy at the Wilson Center. Mexican officials, Mr Wood said, “know they can hurt the Biden administration, and they know the Biden administration knows this.”

Mr. Biden’s dependence on Mexico has put the fate of a significant portion of his domestic agenda in the hands of Mr. López Obrador, who has attacked the United States and pursued policies that are against US interests.

Mr. López Obrador’s government has called for university professors to be jailed, halted funding for civic organizations, attacked journalists by name at national news conferences, and supported a constitutional reform that would help Mexico’s government. This will ensure the dominance of the state-owned power giant in the energy market.

“They see Mexico as critically important to many of their high-profile targets, the biggest of which is certainly immigration,” said Roberta S. Jacobson, who previously served as ambassador to Mexico and served as a member of Mr Biden’s. Spent four months as border coordinator. , “But I think they see Mexico equally, at best, as an extremely complex fellow and at least an incredible one of the things they care about.”

While the Mexican leader called on President Donald J. Praised Trump, he has taken a more openly confrontational approach to US policies since Mr Biden took office.

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Just this week, Mr. López Obrador scorned the US sanctions on Cuba as “despicable” and attacked the Biden administration for helping fund Mexican media groups, which he described as “opposition publications”. did. (The president has previously said that US funding for Mexican civil society is “fostering a coup mentality”.)

Vice President Kamala Harris met Mr. Lopez Obrador during her summer visit to Mexico and has since been seen as the inner savior of that relationship. Mr. Lopez Obrador will meet with Mr. Biden on Thursday morning before having a bilateral meeting with him.

Ambassador to Mexico Ken Salazar publicly expressed “Serious concerns” about an energy reform designed to promote a state-controlled power company over private firms. But the administration remained mostly silent on Mr. López Obrador’s provocation, and Mr. Salazar steered clear of offering an assessment of the Mexican president’s civil society and media behavior in a September interview with the Times.

“Freedom of the press is highly valued by President Biden,” Mr Salazar said. “I’m sure we’ll have a conversation on some of these issues.”

Mr López Obrador, for his part, has seized the opportunity to strongly pursue his own agenda, particularly on security issues.

According to officials in both countries, the Mexican government delayed for months the granting of visas to several agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration who were waiting for permission to work in the country.

The delay was partly a response to the arrest of Mexico’s former defense minister at a Los Angeles airport on drug trafficking charges at the end of Mr Trump’s term last year, officials said, a move that sparked outrage at the highest levels. inspired. Mexican Government.

During a discussion on security cooperation after Mr Biden took office, Mexico asked that the United States allow Mexican security agents to work with local law enforcement officials on efforts to combat US arms smuggling south of the border. Is.

The Biden administration agreed to that proposal, and in the coming weeks, officials expect DEA agents to be let into Mexico and Mexican officials to the United States.

The Mexican Foreign Ministry’s chief official for North America, Roberto Velasco, said in an interview that the move was part of Mr López Obrador’s focus on “focusing on the vision of security cooperation and taking into account the priorities of the two countries”. .

Natalie Kittroeff Reported from Mexico City. Zolan Kanno-Youngs Contributed from Washington.

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