Mexico and the United States have taken a new step in relaunching their relations. The authorities of both countries have staged this Thursday a new gesture of closeness with the return of the High Level Economic Dialogue (Dean). It is the first since 2016, when Donald Trump withdrew Washington from the table on the grounds that Mexico was taking advantage of the relationship. The Joe Biden Administration returns to diplomacy in times of crisis to seek an ally treatment to the neighboring country and to talk about integration in the times of the T-MEC, the recent trade agreement in the region, and the economic recovery from the pandemic , which has affected labor markets and disrupted production chains. In this first session, Mexico has offered labor in a country that has not been able to fill millions of job vacancies for months. “We have made a proposal for investment and more work visas to build a regular route of economic migration for whoever wants it,” said Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard at a press conference.
Kamala Harris, the vice president of the United States, has been in charge of reactivating the dialogue. Biden has put the relationship with Mexico in his hands, a high priority for Washington. “Economic stability is one of the interests of the United States,” said Harris, who visited Mexico City in June to meet with President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. The vice president underlined the commitment made at that time to strengthen relations between two countries through whose common border 1 billion dollars in goods pass every day. “18 United States States count Mexico as their first or second export destination,” he recalled in his opening words.
The Dean, believes Tatiana Clouthier, the Mexican economy secretary, will be the platform that allows the “post-pandemic economic recovery.” The US authorities have proposed four strategies to their counterparts. The first will ensure that supply chains are kept in good condition to avoid further disruption, this includes infrastructure projects such as the new Otay 2 gate in Tijuana and a new international bridge in Nuevo Laredo. The second is technical cooperation in productive project programs, which the López Obrador government proposes are Young People Building the Future and Sowing Life in the south and southeast of the country. The third is aimed at cybersecurity, one of Washington’s obsessions after the increase in cyber attacks on US companies and infrastructure. The fourth will be investment and training for women, youth and members of the LGTBIQ + community. Mexico also wants to close the gap for workers who come to specialize in the United States. There are only 15,000 Mexicans when an Asian country like India contributes 360,000.
“Good level and good spirits.” This is how Ebrard described the climate of understanding between the delegations. “It’s been a long time since we were in a meeting like this … before there was no dialogue,” he said hours after the meeting. The issues that strain the relationship did not reach the table. “The issue of the Migrant Protection Protocols was not touched upon,” said Esteban Moctezuma, the Mexican ambassador in Washington, referring to Stay in Mexico, a controversial Trump-era program that a court ruling has revived and that requires Mexico to temporarily receive asylum seekers.
Despite the good spirits, there is no definitive date for the reopening of the common border, which has been closed for more than a year, since March 2020. “As soon as possible”, has been the wish transferred by the Mexican Foreign Minister to their counterparts. The issue of the border was touched on tangentially. Alejandro Mayorkas, the Secretary of Homeland Security, had a seat at the table as part of the delegation of seven American officials, three of them secretaries of state (State, Antony Blinken; Commerce, Gina Raimondo and National Security). Mayorkas is in charge of overseeing surveillance on the common border, a hot zone difficult for Democrats to control in the seven months they have been in power. July again left the highest number of crosses in two decades with 212,672 meetings on the line, almost 13% more than in June. Among these, 18,962 were with unaccompanied minors, the highest figure recorded throughout the year. Mexicans top the list of those who cross. Pending the August data, the US authorities reported 59,762 encounters with citizens of the southern country in July. Most of them are adults crossing alone. The figure represents an 84% drop from May’s peak of 70,845 matches.
President López Obrador thinks that this border flow can be used in favor of the United States. “With all due respect, I am posing to President Biden in the letter that where the workforce is going to come from to carry out his important plan to strengthen the infrastructure, where are the construction workers going to come from? … Is it done without the workers? ”, the Mexican president questioned this Thursday morning. A copy of that letter was delivered to Secretary Antony Blinken by Chancellor Ebrard, who has insisted that meetings like today’s help create a common “vision of the future.”
The Labor Department reported this week that, as of the end of July, there were 10.9 million job openings in the US job market, a higher number than the 8.7 million unemployed in the country. Earlier this month, some freight transport organizations reported a shortage of 60,000 trailer drivers. Some companies have asked Washington to increase the annual quota of 40,000 visas for these types of workers. Drivers from Mexico, Canada and South Africa are among those who could benefit if the Biden government turns on the tap to fill these positions temporarily.
In the coming weeks and until the next edition of the Dean, which will take place in November, both governments will bring together a series of projects that can strengthen the aforementioned strategies, the objectives of which will be reviewed by the secretaries of state in one year in Mexico City. .
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