Monday, October 3, 2022

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Blinken discusses trade and migration with his Mexican colleague

Top US diplomat Antony Blinken is traveling to Mexico City for high-level economic talks with Mexican government officials.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has discussed “issues of common concern” with his Mexican counterpart, including drug trafficking, migration and trade, as senior officials from both countries met in Mexico City for high-level economic talks.

The US State Department said in a statement Monday that Blinken noted “his continued appreciation for working with Mexico” in his discussions with Mexico’s Secretary of State Marcelo Ebrard.

“They also discussed regional efforts to assist the people of Haiti as well as Mexico and the United States’ continued cooperation to create a more effective United Nations,” US State Department spokesman Ned Price said in the statement.

Blinken was joined by US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and other Biden administration officials on the trip to the Mexican capital for this year’s high-level US-Mexico economic dialogue.

“Last year, our two presidents agreed to resume high-level business dialogue. They have collectively recognized that a strong US-Mexico relationship is critical,” Blinken said during the talks.

Earlier in the day, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador struck a conciliatory note on a major row with the US over Mexico’s energy policy, saying Washington had taken a more respectful stance on his position.

In July, the US trade representative called for dispute-settlement talks with Mexico, arguing that Lopez Obrador’s bid to tighten government control of the energy market was unfair to US companies and likely violated a regional trade deal.

Lopez Obrador, who has made his energy policy a matter of national sovereignty, responded defiantly at the time, saying he would defend Mexico’s position at an Independence Day military parade next Friday.

On Monday, however, he said he would not address the energy dispute again in his Friday address because US President Joe Biden had responded positively to his concerns.

“There’s a different tone. There is a respectful attitude. Rather, it is an affirmation of respect for our national sovereignty,” Lopez Obrador said at a regular news conference, referring to a letter he allegedly received from Biden.

Translation: I had the pleasure of welcoming Antony Blinken, US Secretary of State, and Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. Warm welcome!

The US energy complaint, which Canada immediately joined, is arguably the most significant dispute to emerge under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) since the North American Trade Agreement went into effect in 2020.

If left unsolved, it could lead to heavy trade tariffs being imposed on Mexico, analysts say.

Ebrard, Mexico’s foreign minister, said Monday’s talks were very productive and that Mexico had been invited to join a US push to boost semiconductor manufacturing and electric mobility in North America.

Ebrard added that the energy dispute was not the focus of Monday’s agenda and had taken up “no more than 5 percent” of talks at the presidential palace.

Washington is increasingly looking to the Mexican government for help in dealing with the growing number of refugees and migrants arriving at the US-Mexico border.

But relations between the two countries have been tested in recent months after Lopez snubbed Obrador Biden by refusing to attend the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles on the grounds that Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua were not invited been.

That prompted the US President to invite his Mexican counterpart to a visit to the White House in July to mend ties.

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