Only three weeks after it took place, it’s clear that the summit served only as a photo op for Biden and an opportunity to push his luck with Mexico.
The North American Leaders Summit attended by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador didn’t amount to much. The agreements reached there are slipping away like sand between your fingers — and Mexico will pay the price. There have been at least four red flags since then, reflecting an immediate deterioration following AMLO’s meeting with Joe Biden.
The first issue is the handling of the omicron variant, which jumped into the public spotlight a few days after the meeting. At the summit, countries committed to using the North American Plan for Animal and Pandemic Influenza, a trinational coordination mechanism launched by Barack Obama, Felipe Calderón and Stephen Harper which involves having interconnected surveillance and early warning systems in place, just like the mutual assistance provided when faced with an epidemiological threat. This clearly hasn’t happened with omicron. Biden has reinforced travel restrictions to the country, including requiring travelers to test for COVID-19 within 24 hours, while AMLO has played down the seriousness of the new variant. These are completely contrasting responses to the new public threat.
The second issue involves the automotive sector. On Thursday, the Mexican economy minister warned that Mexico will retaliate if the U.S. insists on granting $12,500 in tax credits for the purchase of electric vehicles, making cars manufactured in the U.S. 30% cheaper and giving the U.S. auto industry a serious advantage over Mexican exports. This head-on collision, which seems inevitable, goes against the “mechanisms of coordination” that the three countries have committed to pursue for essential industries, and it shows how disconnected Biden’s priorities are from the reality of Mexican automotive manufacturing.
The third issue is the reactivation of the Remain in Mexico program for immigrants seeking asylum in the United States. At NALS, there was talk of creating a regional migration plan for the Americas, but it in the end, it reactivated the program implemented by former President Donald Trump.
Add to this the fact that the time frame for Mexico to regain the Federal Aviation Administration’s Category 1 classification (originally thought to be May or June 2022) hasn’t moved even one month, and things get worse. Has the summit not helped in moving this classification forward to January or February?
So, only three weeks after taking place, it’s clear that the summit served only as a photo op for Biden and an opportunity to push his luck with Mexico.