U.S. Seeks Economic Reset With Mexico, Top Biden Adviser Says
(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. and Mexico will look to reset their economic relationship at a meeting Thursday after a breakdown under Donald Trump, according to a top adviser to President Joe Biden, amid tensions on issues from automotive trade to energy investment.
Vice President Kamala Harris will lead the U.S. in a gathering at the White House with Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard and representatives of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. They’re restarting an annual forum that began in 2013 when Biden was vice president but last occurred in 2016, before Trump’s tariff threats and demand to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement upended ties.
The dialogue fits with Biden’s broader strategy of repairing alliances and re-engaging with allies globally. It’s also part of his administration’s push to strengthen North American supply chains for everything from computer chips to medical equipment after their fragility was laid bare by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Thursday’s sit-down “symbolizes the strategic nature of the U.S.-Mexico relationship,” Juan Gonzalez, special assistant to Biden and the senior director for the Western Hemisphere on the president’s National Security Council, said in an interview. The nations are creating a space for officials to “engage, respond, drive issues of mutual importance and even address issues of disagreement in a constructive and collaborative space.”
While the agenda is focused on areas of consensus, with focuses titled “Building Back Better” and “Securing the Tools for Future Prosperity,” disagreements have surfaced in recent weeks.
In July, Bloomberg News reported that the Biden administration is clashing with its neighbors over rules for cars shipped under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, imperiling the most important product in a pact that went into effect in July 2020. Mexico has warned the U.S. that auto companies may abandon the region if rules are too tight.
That dispute is unlikely to be resolved and may not even be addressed during the two- to three-hour planned meeting on Thursday, according to people familiar with the matter.
More than focusing on any single topic or deliverable, the dialogue will serve to show that the U.S. and Mexico are meeting in an organized and institutional way again after the Trump administration, where tariff threats and belligerent trade rhetoric -- with U.S. positions communicated via Twitter -- sometimes threw Mexico’s currency into a tailspin.
The dialogue “is meant to set priorities, it’s meant to be a mechanism that evolves and really looks to define what the United States and Mexico want out of the future of the economic relationship,” Gonzalez said.
The two countries also share a desire to spur development in southern Mexico and Central America to reduce poverty that has sent a wave of migrants to the U.S. in recent months. Beyond Harris, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, USAID Administrator Samantha Power and recently confirmed U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Ken Salazar will participate for the U.S.
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