(Trends Wide) — US President Joe Biden plans to focus on migration, the COVID-19 pandemic and economic integration at the “Three Friends” summit that will take place at the White House this Thursday.
While the talks are not expected to be contentious, there are some sticking points. Among those are car manufacturing and a Canadian pipeline.
It is the first summit of the “Three Friends” – United States, Mexico and Canada – since 2016, after a forum rejected by former President Donald Trump.
It comes a few weeks after Biden fully reopened the U.S. land borders to fully vaccinated travelers. This ended a nearly 20-month shutdown that had caused tensions with both nations.
How the summit will unfold
Before meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Biden will meet with each president individually to discuss bilateral issues.
They are not expected to hold a joint press conference, unlike the eight “Three Amigos” summits of North American leaders held since 2005.
As Biden works to promote the landmark infrastructure law he signed this week, some of the provisions are included in the broader climate and social spending plan is causing consternation among America’s neighbors.
Points of tension between the “Three Friends”
Specifically, the proposed electric vehicle tax credits included in the “Rebuild Better” plan would favor US manufacturers, raising concerns about protectionist policies. Trudeau and Mexican officials have raised concerns about the proposed tax credits.
Other problems have caused some tension between neighbors, including the Line 5 pipeline, which the state of Michigan wants to close, and Mexico’s reform of its electricity industry.
But leaders will continue to show a cooperative face when the “Three Friends” format is restored.
One of the main announcements that will emerge from the talks will be an agreement on donations of vaccines against covid-19. Earlier this year, the United States loaned doses to both countries, and on Thursday they will “pay back” by donating millions of vaccines to countries in the Western Hemisphere.
They will also build on efforts to compile regional pandemic preparedness plans and discuss the best ways to distribute the covid vaccine in Latin America.
The leaders will announce a new group focused on supply chain resilience and commit to reducing emissions such as methane.
The “Three Friends” will reaffirm their support for the labor protections included in the trade agreement between the United States, Mexico and Canada signed during the previous administration.
Security and migration, summit topics
Leaders also hope to rebuild relationships that had been dormant in the previous administration, including a high-level security dialogue.
Migration will come naturally, although senior US administration officials said the focus will be on developing a regional approach to the problem and not specifically on the southern border of the United States.
One official said Biden hoped to “join arms” with Canada and Mexico to address displacement problems that they acknowledge will not diminish anytime soon.
The “Three Friends” hope to address root causes such as lack of job opportunities and the effects of climate change.