Speed Reads

Three Amigos Again

Biden hosts the leaders of Canada and Mexico for a summit mixing friendship affirmations and trade tensions

President Biden hosted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador at the White House on Thursday, in the first trilateral summit of North American leaders since 2016. The meeting was marked by expressions of warmth between the leaders and underlying tensions on trade, migration, and climate change. 

"We can meet all the challenges if we just take the time to speak to one another, by working together," Biden said. He and Vice President Kamala Harris first met with Trudeau, then López Obrador, and finally brought both leaders together for three-way talks in the East Room. 

Biden complimented Trudeau, the first leader he met with virtually as president, on "one of the easiest relationships you can have as an American president and one of the best." Trudeau said while he and Biden have "a lot of work to continue to do," it was "something that we're always great partners on." The Canadians brought special concerns about Biden's "Buy American" policies.

After his meeting with Biden, López Obrador said he is grateful for the U.S. president's "treatment of respect" toward Mexico, but also said he pressed Biden to enact temporary work visas for Mexican and Central American migrants. "Migrants should not be rejected when growth requires a workforce that in reality is insufficient both in the United States and in Canada," he said at a news conference.

Mexico and Canada both complained about a proposal in Biden's pending Build Back Better bill that would offer U.S. consumers a $7,500 tax credit for buying an electric vehicle, with that credit applying only to U.S.-made cars after 2026 and rising to $12,000 if the vehicle was made at a unionized U.S. factory. Trudeau said the provision threatens "over 50 years of integrated auto-making in our two countries which was mostly reaffirmed in the Canada, U.S., Mexico free trade agreement, the new NAFTA." 

Mexican Foreign Affairs Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said Thursday evening that the summit was "very successful," adding, "There is an ideological, political affinity, and good chemistry between the three and that is going to mean a new stage in the relationship." 

The "three amigos" summit was a near-annual tradition started by former President George W. Bush in 2005, continued under former President Barack Obama, and suspended under former President Donald Trump, who had frosty relationships with Trudeau and López Obrador's predecessor but a more cordial rapport with López Obrador himself.