U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Photo: Revista Caras

By EARL ANTHONY WAYNE, former U.S. ambassador to Mexico

(A modified version of the following article first appeared in the U.S. political website “Latin America Advisor.” It is being republished in Pulse News Mexico with specific prior permission.)

On Wednesday, July 8, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and U.S. President Donald Trump met in person for the first time in Washington, D.C.

When Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) and U.S. President Donald Trump met in person for the first time in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, July 8, they rightly welcomed in the start of the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

But they should also recognize that there is still much to be done to strengthen commerce, security and wellbeing between the United States and Mexico.

In the 19 months since AMLO took office, U.S.-Mexico relations have largely been in crisis management over the border wall, migration, cross-border crime and trade.

Now, both presidents can gain by building on the USMCA and initiating long-term efforts to promote prosperity and build better cooperation on public security, border management and migration.

The USMCA provides 16 years of “certainty,” during which North America’s businesses, farmers and workers can expand the existing networks that produced $1.3 trillion in trade in 2019.

The USMCA’s updated rules, norms and procedures will facilitate commerce and resolving disputes.

The USMCA, however, is also a strategic vehicle for making North America more competitive in the world and for building cooperation on shared economic challenges such as the transformation of work and business by new technologies, which is now accelerated by the impact of covid-19.

In this connection, Mexico should double down smartly on its potential to attract resilient supply chains and investment under the USMCA.

To do so, the AMLO government needs to rethink steps that have alarmed investors.

AMLO and Trump can productively use their talks to charge officials with developing a forward-looking economic agenda that builds from USMCA and with better cooperation on cross-border crime, border management and irregular migration.

EARL ANTHONY WAYNE is a public policy fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center and career ambassador (ret.) from the U.S. Diplomatic Service, where he served as U.S. ambassador to both Mexico and Argentina, as well as assistant secretary of State for economic and business affairs. He is also the co-chair of the Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute Advisory Board and a Diplomat in Residence at American University’s School of International Service.

…July 9, 2020

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