Biden and Trudeau discuss electric car dispute at the summit

Biden and Trudeau discuss electric car dispute at the summit

Washington — President Joe Biden embarked on a three-way diplomacy with the leaders of Canada and Mexico on Thursday, celebrating the return of semi-annual summits that had dormant during the Trump years. But there are still many differences to resolve on trade, immigration and other issues.

Biden first met Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, describing the relationship between the two countries as one of the easiest in the beginning of his presidency.

But while Biden and Trudeau sat down for talks, the president also emphasized that the two leaders should discuss their differences over proposed tax incentives on electric cars in the massive social services bill and the climate concern in Ottawa.

“We’ll talk about that,” Biden said. “He has not yet passed at home.”

Biden later met with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, and then the three leaders met together. Trudeau and Lopez Obrador met separately with Vice President Kamala Harris as well.


Trump had an icy relationship with Lopez Obrador’s predecessor, as he pressured Enrique Peña Nieto not to say publicly that Mexico would not pay for a southern US border wall.

But Lopez Obrador appears to have come to terms on one issue with Trump: Mexico has slowed the flow of Central American migrants trying to reach the US border, and Trump has often seemed to turn a blind eye to all aspects of the complex relationship.

Lopez Obrador offered warm words to Biden as they appeared in front of the cameras at the start of their meeting on Thursday. The two leaders discussed Mexico’s relations with the United States under Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt, before Biden featured their portraits prominently in the Oval Office.

The Mexican president came home saying that Biden treats his government with respect, something he noted was not always taken for granted in the two countries’ long history.


“From the first time we spoke on the phone with the president who is already in office, he mentioned that we will not be seen as the backyard of the United States, and we are grateful for that,” Lopez Obrador said of Biden.

Meanwhile, Canada is concerned about a provision in Biden’s spending plan that would offer US consumers a $7,500 tax credit if they buy electric cars through 2026. The following year, only purchases of electric cars made in the US will be eligible for the credit. . The base credit would go up by $4,500 if the car was manufactured in a US factory operating under a collective bargaining agreement negotiated by unions.

The union clause sparked opposition from some non-union shops and legislators. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden is “very committed to a bill that provides well-paying union jobs.”

Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland on Wednesday described the stimulus as a clear violation of an updated trade agreement between the three countries aimed at protecting American jobs and products made in North America.


For Canada, Freeland said, “Job One here in the US this week is to make our American counterparts aware of how problematic their current approach to this issue is for Canada and to really explain to them that the way they’re dealing with them” really shaped that incentive, really he has ability to become the dominant issue in our bilateral relationship.”

As Biden, Trudeau and Lopez Obrador resume the tradition of the North American leaders’ summit, the three allies also face deep differences on immigration and climate issues.

“There is not much in common between them, at least in their vision of what they want for their countries,” said Kenneth Frankel, president of the Canadian Council of the Americas. “Not just what they want for their countries, but what they can offer their countries.”


Thursday’s meetings at the White House mark the first three-way meeting of North American leaders since a June 2016 gathering of Trudeau, Barack Obama and Enrique Peña Nieto in Ottawa. The rallies have stalled under Trump, who has feuded with Trudeau and Nieto during his tenure.

Biden has made some progress in mending relations with US neighbors after the turbulent Trump years. But there are still many important breeds – and some new ones have emerged.

Mexico’s priorities to the top were to make tangible progress on immigration and more equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.


The tradition of three-way meetings began when George W. Bush hosted Mexican Vicente Fox and Canadian Paul Martin in 2005 for talks at his ranch in Waco, Texas.

Biden already had separate virtual meetings with Trudeau in February and Lopez Obrador in March.

Meanwhile, the United States and Canada have expressed frustration that Lopez Obrador has failed to join global efforts to reduce climate emissions. The Mexican president missed this month’s UN climate summit in Glasgow.

For its part, the Lopez Obrador government wants to support the promised US development funds for the countries of the Northern Triangle of Central America. The Mexican leader continues to pressure the United States to fund the expansion of his tree-planting program into Central America.


Mexico has worked with the United States — under both Trump and Biden — to control migrant flows and help return migrants to Central America. The two countries are still negotiating the re-implementation of a court order to reinstate a Trump-era policy known as the Remain in Mexico, which forced asylum seekers to wait until US asylum procedures in Mexico ended. Psaki said politics was not expected to be a major topic of discussion at Thursday’s meeting.

Lopez Obrador has also mentioned on several occasions his interest in expanding the US government’s temporary work visa program so that more Mexicans and Central Americans can meet the demand for labor in the United States. the United States without becoming part of the flow of illegal immigration.

Mexican Foreign Affairs Minister Marcelo Ebrard said Lopez Obrador will focus on three issues: the pandemic, economic integration and migration. On immigration, Ebrard said Mexico will try to mobilize support for two of Lopez Obrador’s signature social programs — tree planting and youth job opportunities — to reduce immigration push factors.


Ken Salazar, the US ambassador to Mexico, has expressed “serious concerns” about the Mexican government’s attempts to reduce competition in the electric power sector.

Trudeau and Biden are also expected to discuss the future of the oil pipeline that crosses part of the Great Lakes region, the subject of heightened tension over whether it should shut down. Biden is caught up in a battle over the Enbridge Line 5, a key part of the pipeline network that transports Canadian oil through the Midwest to the United States.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat and Biden ally, has called for the 68-year-old line to be closed due to the potential for a catastrophic 4-mile (6.4 km) rupture in the Strait of Mackinac, which connects Lake. Huron and Lake Michigan. The Biden administration has not taken a stand but is under increasing pressure to do so.


Canada last month invoked a 1977 treaty guaranteeing unimpeded transportation of oil between the two countries.


Author Colin Long at The Associated Press in Washington contributed to this report.

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