President Joseph Biden, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador met in person and discussed trade, immigration, climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic.
After a five-year hiatus, the leaders of the US, Canada and Mexico gathered for the North American Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C., in mid-November.
President Joseph Biden, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador met in person and discussed trade, immigration, climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic. The three countries share the United States-Mexico-Canada free trade agreement (USMCA), which facilitates approximately $1.5 trillion in North American trade annually.
Biden hosted the “Three Amigos” meeting at the White House, endeavoring to improve upon the strained relations left by the previous administration, which showed little interest in strategic regional cooperation.
A joint effort to find a common ground to strengthen the trading bloc’s economic power was tangible. The trio concurred that more regional unity is needed to manage supply chain disruptions and respond better to China’s increasing competition.
However, other challenges emerged during the top-level conversations. Trudeau and Lopez Obrador voiced concerns regarding the Biden administration not doing enough to curb Trump-era protectionism. They stressed the need for the US president to review his predecessor’s trade policies as well as some of the latest legislation, like the infrastructure package Biden recently signed into law. Although the new law addresses social and climate spending, it also includes tax incentives for US-made electric vehicles that would violate trade agreements. The meeting ended without resolving those matters and other thorny issues.
Immigration remained a sensitive topic, mostly between the US and Mexico, with Biden urging Lopez Obrador to exercise more control over the surging number of migrants at the border. The pair agreed to tackle the root cause of the problem by investing in Southern Mexico and Central America.
Addressing the ongoing pandemic was also a delicate matter, especially after 20 months of closed borders due to the emergency. However, the three nations reached an accord to work together to send millions of vaccines doses to poorer countries.
No groundbreaking agreement came from the summit, but as Lorenzo Codogno, a professor in practice at the London School of Economics, observed: “After reopening talks with Europe and China, it’s reassuring that Biden is also reconnecting with Canada and Mexico. It’s early to see results, but it’s a new course—and much needed.”