Quantcast
Connect with us

Increased tension between ‘Three Amigos’ as Obama meets with NAFTA leaders

Published

on

U.S. President Barack Obama joined the Mexican and Canadian leaders Wednesday for a North American summit focused on trade but marked by friction between the “three amigos.”

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto shook hands with Obama in an ornate state government palace in Toluca, near Mexico City, for private one-on-one talks before Prime Minister Stephen Harper joined them later.

ADVERTISEMENT

The partners of the 20-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) are locked in several thorny disputes likely to surface in the talks and at a joint closing news conference.

More than 5,000 soldiers and police officers patrolled streets lined with metal fences.

Pena Nieto has sought to turn attention away from Mexico’s security problems, which have left more than 77,000 people dead in a seven-year-old drug conflict, and toward trade and his sweeping economic and energy reforms.

Hundreds of leftist opposition supporters staged a demonstration in Toluca, holding signs reading “Stop selling Mexico!” to protest the reforms.

– Sources of friction –

Although the allies want to discuss ways to improve NAFTA through a potential trade pact with Asia-Pacific nations, their talks come with some discord on other issues.

ADVERTISEMENT

Obama will no doubt face a new entreaty from Harper to quickly make up his mind on the Keystone XL pipeline project, which would carry crude from Canada’s oil sands across the continental United States to Texas.

Canada is deeply frustrated at delays in the project, which is awaiting a construction permit and has caught the Obama administration between its backers in the environmental community and claims it will create thousands of jobs.

But Harper is unlikely to get an answer, as Secretary of State John Kerry continues his deliberations on the project.

ADVERTISEMENT

A senior U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Obama would tell Harper that his administration is reviewing the project and will “of course let our Canadian friends know when we’ve arrived at a decision.”

A State Department report last month concluded that the pipeline would not significantly impact global warming, as Canada would extract the dirty tar sands oil even if it is not built.

ADVERTISEMENT

Pena Nieto will, meanwhile, likely offer Obama some support, but also a measure of frustration over the failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform in the United States.

The U.S. president made the issue a centerpiece of his agenda but has seen his hopes of enacting a law to bring more than 11 million illegal immigrants, many of them of Mexican origin, out of the shadows repeatedly frustrated by Republicans.

Pena Nieto’s government has also been investigating claims sourced to documents leaked by fugitive US contractor Edward Snowden that U.S. National Security Agency eavesdropping programs targeted his communications and those of two predecessors.

ADVERTISEMENT

Mexico and Canada have their own dispute over tough visa requirements imposed by Ottawa on Mexican travelers in 2009 to curb an influx of refugee applications.

Pena Nieto called on Harper after a bilateral meeting in Mexico City on Tuesday to negotiate a solution to eliminate the visas “in a near future.”

Duncan Wood, director of the U.S.-based Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute think tank, said Mexican-Canadian relations are “frosty” at the moment, partly due to the visa spat.

But also because “for many years Canada has said that Mexico is a crucial partner, but it has done nothing to back that up, and Mexicans are now saying, ‘we are tired of this, we want to be shown respect,'” Wood told AFP.

ADVERTISEMENT

Officials want to focus on improving NAFTA, but they say the deal will not be reopened and that it can be revitalized via the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact that Washington is hoping to conclude this year.

But Obama’s partners will be keen to know how he plans to overcome opposition from fellow Democrats to the deal in a mid-term election year, as well as his hopes of securing “fast-track” powers to swiftly conclude the deal.

[Image via Agence France-Presse]


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Here is how the 99% can force the 1% to defeat COVID-19

Published

on

By

The government's response to the pandemic has further enriched the wealthy, while everyday people, especially Black and Brown workers, face sickness, death, and destitution. Government handouts to the rich are unsurprising, since they repeat the century-old pattern of "rescue packages", but another pattern is more perplexing: why have business leaders not stepped up to demand a robust public health response, which would ultimately be in their own self-interest? The titans of industry have mostly stood by in the face of Trump's criminal negligence, which has devastated much of the 99% but also endangers the wealthy.

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Trump Organization planning ‘high-end’ retirement community — with 225 properties — on foreign soil: report

Published

on

The Trump Organization is planning a massive real estate development, according to a new report by Martyn McLaughlin in The Scotsman.

"In what would be one of the most ambitious and expensive foreign projects undertaken by Donald Trump’s family business since he assumed the presidency, his company has commissioned a detailed masterplan to develop as many as 225 properties, as well as leisure facilities and shops, on an expanse of rolling farmland adjacent to Turnberry’s lauded Ailsa course, a four-time host of golf’s Open Championship," the Scottish newspaper reported.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

WATCH: Video shows how Trump makes his caddie hang on to the back of the golf cart

Published

on

Despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and economic catastrophe, the leader of the free world spent the weekend golfing at his private, for-profit golf course in Virginia.

For the second day in a row, Donald Trump's presidential motorcade traveled to Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia.

"Today marks the president’s 86th day trip to Sterling," reported HuffPost correspondent S.V. Dáte, who was the White House pool reporter for print covering the day's events.

Continue Reading
 
 
You need honest news coverage. Help us deliver it. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1. Go ad-free.
close-image