The leaders of Canada and Mexico have voiced concerns over Biden’s “Buy America” plan. And while Biden’s push toward electric vehicles is a boon to both nations because of the tax credits for North American batteries, there’s concern the U.S. allies will be left behind.
Meantime, the U.S. and Canada accuse López Obrador of trying to favor Mexico’s state-owned utility over power plants built by foreign and private investors, something that is forbidden under the three countries’ free trade pact.
The leaders did meet in Washington last November, but until then, there hadn’t been a summit in five years and many of the current disputes have festered despite constant discussion. They include fentanyl trafficking, corn production, automobile rules of origin and Mexican energy laws.
“These topics are really complicated issues and they will not be solved in a two-day summit,” said Carin Zissis of the Americas Society, a nonprofit dedicated to education, debate and dialogue in the Americas.
The chemistry between Biden and Lopez Obrador is tricky, too. Their relationship is highly transactional and absent any of the warmth and camaraderie Biden has with other world leaders.
Lopez Obrador has made no secret of his admiration of Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump. Lopez Obrador did not recognize Biden’s election victory from November 2020 until after the formal Electoral College vote a month later.
Biden has raised concerns over security and drug trafficking in Mexico and the deaths of journalists there. The U.S. took issue with Lopez Obrador for boycotting the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles last year over Biden’s decision not to invite the leaders of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.
Biden plans to stop in El Paso, Texas, on Sunday for his first visit as president to the U.S.-Mexico border, just days after announcing that the U.S. will immediately begin turning away Cubans, Haitians and Nicaraguans who illegally cross into the U.S. from Mexico. The new policy is an effort to manage the spiraling numbers of migrants arriving at the border.
Mexico agreed each month to take 30,000 Cubans, Nicaraguans, Venezuelans and Haitians who walk or swim to the U.S. and are turned back, and the U.S. each month will offer 30,000 people from those four nations work permits for two years and a legal path if they come to the U.S. by plane, have eligible sponsors and pass background checks. People from those four countries now make up the most migrants crossing the border.
Biden’s attempt to tackle border security issues has drawn considerable criticism from immigrant advocates and refugee rights groups ,who say the changes are inhumane and reminiscent of Trump’s hard-line approach.