"In the history of diplomatic relations between Mexico and the United States we have had disagreements and there are grievances that are still not forgotten, but we have also been able to establish cooperation and coexistence agreements," said Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador during his meeting with his U.S. counterpart this Wednesday at the White House. López Obrador's first trip abroad since he came to power a year and a half ago was marked by the implementation of the T-MEC trade agreement between Canada, Mexico and the United States. However, the friendship between the two countries is not something that emerges overnight; or it is, only if some issues such as immigration or the border wall that divides both nations are relegated to the background.
The ghosts of the past that at some point in history have strained relations between the two countries have not come to light during the meeting between Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Donald Trump. During this meeting, both presidents signed a declaration in which they discussed the entry into force of the T-MEC. "With great appreciation, Mexico and the United States recognize the progress that our two countries have made towards a renewed and strengthened relationship, prepared to face the economic and security challenges of the 21st century," begins this statement to which several Mexican media have had access, including 'El Universal'. "Our meeting commemorates the entry into force of the U.S.-Mexico/Canada Treaty (T-MEC), a free trade agreement that will strengthen our global competitiveness as a region and promote economic growth, employment and prosperity for the Mexican and American people.
This meeting has been marked by Canada's absence, after its Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, declined the invitation to attend the meeting, amid new U.S. threats on Canadian products. Even so, the Mexican president has invited Trudeau to visit Mexico to "commemorate the beginning of the T-MEC".
This treaty, says the declaration signed between Trump and AMLO, "marks the beginning of a new era" where the most benefited will be "the workers, farmers, engineers and businessmen of both nations," whom they have defined as "the backbone of our integrated economies". "The T-MEC will allow our successful economic relationship - one of the strongest in the world - to expand even further in the years to come, continuing our great history of shared cooperation," the statement concludes. "Mexico has become the United States' largest trading partner since 2019," the official document reports, stating that "every day, goods worth $1.6 billion cross this border, directly supporting Mexican and U.S. businesses, jobs and workers.
The Mexican president was accompanied by multimillionaire Carlos Slim, Patricia Armendáriz Guerra of the Sustainable Finance Group, Carlos Bremer Gutiérrez (Grupo Financiero Value), Daniel Chávez Morán (Grupo Vidanta) and Bernardo Gómez Martínez (Grupo Televisa). However, also present in this retinue were Francisco González Sánchez (Grupo Multimedios), Carlos Hank González (Grupo Financiero Banorte), Miguel Rincón Arredondo (Bio Pappel), Ricardo Salinas Pliego (Grupo Salinas), Marcos Shabot Zonana (Arquitectura y Construcción) and Olegario Vázquez Aldir (Grupo Empresarial Ángeles), according to the EFE news agency. The U.S. delegation was formed by Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, a key figure in the diplomatic relations between both nations.
The Mexican president has stressed the value of friendship during his meeting with Donald Trump, whom he has referred to as "my friend". "The forecasts have failed: we are not fighting, we are friends and we will continue to be friends," said the Mexican leader before dinner at the White House with Trump, who stressed that "Mexico has learned not to bet against us".
At the meeting - marked by the cordial relationship between the two leaders - the US president referred to the Mexican diaspora as "a community of good, hard-working people who came to earn an honest living", while Andrés Manuel López Obrador thanked the United States for "never trying to treat us like a colony". "That is why I am here to tell the people of the United States that their president has treated us with kindness and respect," he said.
AMLO's first official trip abroad has been accompanied by controversy, as it comes at a critical time in the country, which has accumulated 275,003 people infected with coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic, 6,995 of them confirmed during the last 24 hours and four months before the elections in which Trump is seeking reelection.
During a press appearance at the Rose Garden of the presidential mansion, the U.S. president made a brief historical journey to recall that "the tradition of great respect between Mexican and American presidents dates back to the early days of our nations and includes, in particular, Abraham Lincoln and Benito Juarez. "We are taking this relationship to its highest level and continuing to build a powerful economic and security partnership," he added.
In response, Lopez Obrador - who had to undergo a new coronavirus test this Wednesday in order to gain access to the White House - has said, referring to Trump, that what he appreciates most about him is that "he has never tried to impose anything on us that would violate or infringe upon our sovereignty. "Instead of the Monroe Doctrine, you have followed in our case the wise advice of the illustrious and prudent George Washington, who warned that nations should not take advantage of the misfortune of other peoples," he has stressed.
In conclusion, the Mexican president assured that "with respect to our sovereignties, instead of distancing ourselves, we are choosing to march together towards the future". "It is to privilege understanding that unites us and to set aside our differences or to resolve them with dialogue and mutual respect," he added. This apparent cordiality between the two leaders came just a few months after the United States threatened Mexico with tariffs in retaliation for immigration. Throughout the day, a group of critics of the López Obrador government also went to the vicinity of the White House to reject his administration. For his part, the Mexican leader began his official trip to Washington with a visit to the monuments of former commanders Abraham Lincoln and Benito Juárez in the U.S. capital.
The T-MEC is a free trade agreement between Mexico, the United States and Canada that replaces the TCLAN, signed in 1994. The new treaty between the three countries involves millions of dollars in trade operations between the United States, Mexico and Canada and contains more than 30 chapters. However, in addition to the name change, this agreement includes some new features that mainly affect the automotive industry, the pharmaceutical sector or digital commerce.
In addition, another novelty relates to the rules of review. The treaty that entered into force on 1 July and that will be in force for 16 years will have to be revised every six years to adapt to the needs of each moment. As for the automotive industry, although the TCLAN required that 62.5 percent of the vehicle manufacturing process be produced in one of the three countries, this new treaty establishes that 75 percent will be required. On the other hand, at least 40 percent of the car will have to be manufactured by workers earning more than US$16 an hour, according to the Infobae news agency.
Also, both the United States and Canada have demanded Mexico under this agreement, to comply with union democracy, as well as to increase the minimum wage and create courts that can resolve the various labor disputes that may arise. Intellectual property and the pharmaceutical industry also play a key role in this new legal document.
Globalization and the emergence of new technologies have created the perfect scenario for the emergence of digital commerce. According to this new treaty, it is totally forbidden to apply customs duties to digitally distributed goods such as software, games, books, music and movies.
Similarly, environmental and anti-corruption policies also feature in some of the chapters of this treaty. Thus, the focus will be on combating cross-border environmental problems or reducing pollution. In the case of transparency, it has been established that officials from these countries will be obliged to make statements on their external activities, employment, investments and assets.