Biden praises Mexico and Canada at summit with AMLO and Trudeau

It was a diplomatic day that required careful choreography, as Trudeau and López Obrador each met separately with Biden.

In resuming the North American trilateral summits after five years, US President Joe Biden joined his Mexican and Canadian counterparts on Thursday in declaring that their nations can work together and show that “democracies deliver,” even when they try to resolve your differences on several key issues.

But even as Biden, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador spoke about their mutual respect, the three dignitaries also found themselves grappling with new controversies over trade, immigration and climate change, among others.

“We can meet all challenges if we just take time to dialogue with each other, working together,” said Biden, who welcomed his neighbors in what had been almost an annual tradition in the decade before former President Donald Trump take office.

It was a diplomatic day that required careful choreography, as Trudeau and López Obrador each met separately with Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris before their trilateral meeting in the East Room of the White House, where there was a combination of English, French and Spanish.

As they extolled the strengths of their alliance, disagreements also came to light.

These include differences between Washington and Ottawa over a tax incentive proposal that would benefit US electric vehicle manufacturers, López Obrador’s frustration at the US’s reluctance to issue more temporary work visas at a time when American companies complain of labor shortages, and the disappointment of the United States and Canada with the fact that Mexico does not act with greater urgency in the fight against climate change.

Biden first met with Trudeau, and said the relationship between the two nations has been one of the simplest during the first months of his rule.

But the US president also confirmed that they should discuss differences over a proposal for tax incentives for electric vehicles included in his huge initiative for social services and climate change.

“We will talk about it,” Biden said. “It has not even been approved in the House of Representatives.”

The proposal in question would offer US consumers a tax credit of $ 7,500 if they buy electric vehicles through 2026. The following year, only purchases of electric vehicles made in the United States would be eligible for the credit. The base credit would increase by $ 4,500 if the vehicle were made in a US plant operating under a collective bargaining agreement negotiated with the unions.

Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland on Wednesday called the incentive a clear violation of an updated trilateral trade agreement.

Trump had a distant relationship with López Obrador’s predecessor: Enrique Peña Nieto, whom he pressured to never publicly declare that Mexico would not pay for the wall on the border between the two nations.

But López Obrador seemed to reach an understanding with Trump in that sense: Mexico was slowing down the flow of Central American migrants trying to reach the southern border of the United States, and Trump was turning a blind eye to practically every other aspect of the complicated relationship between the two. nations.

López Obrador spoke warmly about Biden by appearing on camera for the start of their meeting Thursday. Both presidents discussed Mexico’s relations with the United States during the governments of Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt, in front of the portraits of both that Biden has hanging in the Oval Office.

The Mexican president praised Biden for treating his government with respect, something that – he stressed – has not always been the case in the long relationship between the two countries, and for including in his budget initiative funds to reform the immigration system. However, he also alluded to his desire for the United States to act more prominently on the issue of temporary visas.

López Obrador has also repeatedly mentioned his interest in the US government expanding its temporary work visa program so that more Mexicans and Central Americans can meet the demand for labor in the United States. In return, temporary workers could have greater access to wages from the United States without having to join the flow of illegal migrants.

We must “stop rejecting migrants when, to grow, you need a workforce that, in reality, there is not enough either in the United States or in Canada. Why not study the demand for labor and open the migratory flow in an orderly fashion? ”Declared López Obrador.

Thursday’s meetings at the White House represent the first trilateral 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 received Mexican President Vicente Fox and Canadian Premier Paul Martin at their Waco, Texas ranch in 2005.

Mexico’s priorities for the meeting were to obtain concrete progress on migration and more equitable access to vaccines against COVID-19.

The United States and Canada have expressed frustration that López Obrador has not joined global efforts to curb emissions that cause climate change. The Mexican president did not attend the United Nations climate summit, held this month in Glasgow, and has accused rich nations of “hypocrisy” when it comes to caring for the environment.