Biden Praises Canada, Mexico As Leaders Discuss Strains – English Version

Renewing the three-way North American summit after a five-year hiatus, President Joe Biden joined leaders of Canada and Mexico on Thursday in declaring that their nations can work together and prove that “democracies can deliver” then they even resolve disputes on key issues. .

But as Biden, along with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, spoke of their mutual respect, the three leaders also found themselves facing new tensions over trade, immigration, change. climate and other issues.

“We can meet any challenge if we just take the time to talk to each other, working together,” said Biden, who hosted North American neighbors for what had been an almost annual tradition for the decade before the arrival of President Donald Trump. in the office.

It was a full-fledged day of diplomacy that required painstaking choreography as Trudeau and Lopez Obrador each met separately with Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris before meeting for a three-way conversation in the East Room which featured a mix English, French and Spanish languages.

The leaders released a post-summit statement saying they had agreed to work together to tackle migration, climate change and the coronavirus pandemic – without specifying how they would resolve their differences.

As they played on the closeness of the alliance, the points of tension were also clear.

They understand the differences between Washington and Ottawa over proposed tax incentives that would benefit US electric car makers; López Obrador’s frustration that the US does not move forward to issue more temporary work visas even as US companies complain of suffering from a labor shortage; and the disappointment of the United States and Canada that Mexico did not act faster to tackle climate change.

Biden first met Trudeau, calling the US-Canada relationship one of the easiest early in his presidency. Trudeau has said his values ​​are deeply aligned with Biden, but there are issues of disagreement.

As they sat down for talks, Biden confirmed their differences over proposed tax incentives for electric vehicles in his massive social services and climate bill, and noted that the legislation had yet to “Still passed in the House”.

The provision of the spending plan proposed by Biden would offer US consumers a tax credit of $ 7,500 if they purchase electric vehicles until 2026. The following year, only electric vehicle purchases made in the United States would be eligible for the credit. The base credit would increase by $ 4,500 if the vehicle were manufactured in a US plant that operates under a collective agreement negotiated by the unions.

“It fails to recognize the level at which auto production has been incredibly integrated between our two countries over the past 50 years,” Trudeau said after the meetings. “It’s possible for an auto part to cross the border six or seven times before it finally rolls off an assembly line in a finished vehicle. “

Trudeau said the credit would be a big problem for vehicle production in Canada.

“The Americans are very aware of Canada’s position on this and our concerns about it, and quite frankly of the threats this poses to more than 50 years of integrated auto manufacturing in our two countries, which has been largely reaffirmed. in free trade between Canada, the United States and Mexico. accord, the new NAFTA, ”Trudeau said.

Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland on Wednesday called the incitement a blatant violation of an updated trade deal between the three countries that aimed to protect American jobs and products made in North America.

The union provision has also met with reluctance from some non-union stores and US lawmakers. Still, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden “is quite committed to the bill providing well-paying union jobs.”

Trump had an icy relationship with López Obrador’s predecessor, urging Enrique Peña Nieto never to say publicly that Mexico would not pay for a wall along its border with the southern United States.

But López Obrador appeared to strike a deal with Trump: Mexico has slowed the flow of Central American migrants trying to reach the US border, and Trump has often seemed to overlook just about every other facet of the complicated relationship.

López Obrador offered warm words to Biden as they appeared on camera Thursday. The two leaders discussed Mexico’s relations with the United States under Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt before portraits of the two that Biden displayed prominently in the Oval Office.

The Mexican president praised Biden for treating his government with respect, which he noted has not always been obvious in the two countries’ long history, and for including funding in his spending bill for overhauling the immigration system. But he also hinted at his desire to see the United States adopt temporary visas quickly.

López Obrador has repeatedly mentioned his interest in the US government expanding its work visa program so that more Mexicans and Central American Americans can meet the demand for labor in the United States. Temporary workers could in turn have access to the higher wages they seek in the United States. without being part of the illegal immigration flow.

“Why not study the demand for labor and open up migratory flows in an orderly manner? Lopez Obrador said.

After the meetings ended, Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard called the day “very successful”, adding: “There is an ideological, political affinity and a good chemistry between the three and it will mean a new step in the relationship “.

Ebrard said the United States had agreed to implement a development program for Central America similar to that proposed by Mexico, but he did not specify what the program would entail. Mexico has pushed for the expansion of one of López Obrador’s iconic social programs that pays farmers to plant trees on their land to ease economic pressure to migrate.

Thursday’s White House meetings marked the first trilateral meeting of North American leaders since a June 2016 rally of Trudeau, Barack Obama and Enrique Peña Nieto in Ottawa. The tradition of threesomes began when George W. Bush welcomed Mexican Vicente Fox and Canadian Paul Martin in 2005 to his Texas ranch.

Mexico’s priorities ahead of the summit were to achieve concrete progress on immigration and more equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.

The United States and Canada have expressed frustration that López Obrador has failed to join global efforts to reduce climate emissions. The Mexican president skipped this month’s UN climate summit in Glasgow and accused elite nations of “hypocrisy” on environmentalism.

Trudeau and Biden also discussed the future of an oil pipeline that crosses part of the Great Lakes and is the subject of mounting tensions over its closure. Biden is caught up in a battle over Enbridge’s Line 5, a key segment of a pipeline system that transports Canadian oil through the US Midwest.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat and Biden ally, has demanded the closure of the 68-year-old line due to the risk of catastrophic rupture along a 4-mile (6.4-kilometer) section of the Straits of Mackinac, which connects Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. The Biden administration has not taken a position but is under increasing pressure to do so.

Last month, Canada invoked a 1977 treaty that guarantees the unhindered transit of oil between the two countries. (PA)

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Last modification: December 4, 2021


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