López Obrador will receive Biden and Trudeau at the ‘Summit of The Three Friends’

Eight years later, Mexico will once again host the Three Friends summit. This was announced this Tuesday by the President of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, during his daily morning conference. It will be during the first fortnight of December “in a place yet to be confirmed”, according to sources from the Foreign Ministry. The last time Mexico hosted the event, the trade agreement with the Asia-Pacific region was on the table. This time, the protagonist will be the T-MEC, the North American free trade agreement. Mexico and the US have been involved in a dispute over López Obrador’s energy policy for several months, which threatens to be settled in an international panel. In addition to the economy, migration will be another of the great topics of the meeting.

The Mexican president’s announcement came precisely from a question about the conflict over energy policy. “Our relations are very good relations with the United States. We are going to have a summit in December”, said the president in response to the insistence of questions about the trade agreement. Changes in the electricity sector have given priority to the state company, the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE), over private companies, many of them from the United States.

The US understands that the principles of free competition protected by the T-MEC are being violated. Under the treaty, both countries have open consultations to settle the conflict. López Obrador assured last week that the waters were returning to their course and that the US would not take the matter to the end. However, yesterday, Monday, the US ambassador, Ken Salazar, denied the president by confirming that the consultations continue.

We had a cordial conversation with President Joe Biden on migration, security, and development cooperation. He confirmed to me that he will visit Mexico to participate in the North American Summit. 

Another of the priority issues will be migration, one of the legs of the regional relationship. This same Tuesday afternoon, both leaders have had a telephone conversation focused on joining efforts on immigration, including “actions to reduce the crossing of undocumented migrants from Mexico to the US,” according to the White House statement. Last week, Mexico and the United States reached an agreement to organize the passage of migrants across their border in a more humane and safe way.

The United States will grant 65,000 new visas per year for non-agricultural workers, 20,000 of which will go to Central Americans and Haitians. On the other hand, following the successful experience with Ukraine, a quota of 24,000 Venezuelans will be able to request a humanitarian entry by air and as long as they have a regularized backup person in the United States, but without going through Mexico.

Increasing work visas for migrants has been one of the most repeated demands by the Mexican government. López Obrador exposed it explicitly during his meeting in June at the White House. However, the agreement regarding Venezuelan migrants has left thousands of them stranded in Mexican territory. In August, 30,000 migrants, 23,000 of them Venezuelans, crossed the Darién Gap -the inhospitable jungle that separates Colombia from Panama-, and the upward trend throughout the year suggests that in September the number would have been higher.

The last trilateral meeting was held in November last year in Washington after five years of Donald Trump ignoring his neighbors. The issues that marked the day on that occasion were also the economy and migration. All parties also made an effort to stage a climate of cordiality after the hostilities of the Trump Administration. Still in the midst of a pandemic, the logistical problems caused by the confinement were discussed and the direct investments that the US has subsequently formalized in several Central American countries with the aim of mitigating the causes of migration were anticipated.

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