The ‘three friends’ meet again with a lot of tension to solve

WashingtonBeing neighbors is not an excellent guarantee of coexistence, and the American region is a clear example. The United States, Canada and Mexico are not enemies, quite the contrary, but that does not mean that everything is flowers and violets, that the relationship and cooperation are fluid and that a trilateral summit like the one held this Thursday in Washington is basically a showcase meeting to smile and shake hands. The leaders of the three North American countries have basically been seen rebuilding bridges. The word that is most often repeated is trust, specifically the trust that needs to be regained.

The three friends –borrowed title (with a certain cynicism) from a comedy western of the late 1980s about three actors who are confused with heroes – they are not as friendly as the nickname indicates. They had not seen each other since June 2016, when until then they had been rotating to find themselves in a gesture of good coexistence.

It is already known that two (or three, in this case) are not friends if the other (or the others) do not want it, and with Donald Trump there was no will to establish constant communication or contact points. . The only time there was an attempt at cooperation and joint work during the Trumpist term was for a common and very specific interest: to reach an agreement to save the US threat to undo the free trade agreement in the US. region. The signing of the pact was the only meeting point in Trump’s four-year hiatus.

Attempt to return to the essence

Joe Biden has now arrived at the White House and the attempt to show the world that everything has changed and that diplomatic codes and protocols are being respected again has also affected the neighborhood. Things, however, will not be the same again.

A few days ago Kenneth Frankel, president of the Canadian Council for the Americas, refused to continue calling them the Three Friends. “They no longer look like three friends but three fellow travelers, moving in a vague direction without much in common,” he reflected. The fact is that the tensions and points of friction between the three partners are many and the Trump era, coupled with the arrival of left-wing populist Andrés Manuel López Obrador in the Mexican government, has changed the landscape.

Criticisms and requests for explanations intersect and twist. The US wants Mexico to put more effort into immigration and is very reluctant to the energy reform its southern neighbor wants to implement. Canada complains about the protectionism imposed by the White House and needs to resolve disputes immediately on historic issues, such as timber exports, and more recently, such as the future tax on electric cars. Mexico needs US cooperation to stop the flow of weapons and resolve the situation of the millions of Mexicans living in the north.

And this is only a partial list: the disagreements in the neighborhood, even if they do not monopolize big headlines and do not lead to international diplomatic conflicts, live in a permanent underlying state that makes this Thursday’s summit, although born with the best will, it does not end with anything closed nor with the wounds healed.

Trust and integration

That’s not to say it’s useless. The interest in regaining confidence is genuine, and regional integration must be capital, especially to have more bases in economic competition with China. The success of the new free trade agreement, which has been in force for just over a year, has not been enough to prevent shortages and economic problems arising from the effects of the pandemic, nor to improve cooperation and find common ground. encounter and coincidence.

Making the region more competitive is imperative, and the basis for a joint plan or framework idea of ​​what North America can be like in the future can emerge from the meeting.

But the most urgent thing is the pandemic. All three have been forced to resolve issues in a coordinated manner, such as the reopening of land borders that did not occur until a few days ago. Interconnection is unavoidable, like living in the same building, and the need to be in good harmony with neighbors is critical to addressing regional issues.

Source: – Portada by

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