By MARK LORENZANA
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Mexico City on Monday, Sept. 12, accompanied by other U.S. senior officials — chief among them, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo — and promptly held a High-Level Economic Dialogue (HLED) with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) and Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard.
Ebrard welcomed Blinken and Raimondo at the Mexico City International Airport (AICM) for the dialogue, which centered on a myriad of topics that included addressing the fight against fentanyl trafficking and measures to contain irregular migration “in a safe, orderly and humane manner.” The talks also touched on semiconductors, telecommunications and medical equipment, among other economic issues. Raimondo said the United States and Mexico have identified areas of collaboration on supply chains.
In his daily press conference on the morning of Monday at the National Palace before Blinken’s arrival, López Obrador spoke in a more conciliatory tone after initially responding defiantly to dispute settlement talks requested by U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai in July of this year — which Canada immediately joined — over the AMLO government’s discriminatory energy policies that have violated provisions in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
Back then, López Obrador responded that his energy policy was a matter of national sovereignty, saying that he would defend Mexico’s position at a military parade that will take place on Friday, Sept. 16, to commemorate Mexico’s Cry of Dolores. In August, AMLO had also threatened to withdraw from the USMCA ahead of the negotiations, which was heavily criticized by economic experts in the country.
However, in his Monday-morning press conference, AMLO said he will no longer bring up the energy dispute on Friday after U.S. President Joe Biden had, allegedly, positively responded to his concerns.
“It’s a reaffirmation of respect for the national sovereignty of Mexico,” López Obrador said, referring to a letter that he claimed he had received from Biden.
Ebrard had earlier stated that the USMCA energy dispute would not be on the agenda for Monday’s bilateral talks with Blinken.
“The meeting’s objective is not to get into the energy issue because there’s already a process underway with the U.S. Trade Representative,” Ebrard told reporters on Tuesday, Sept. 6. “It wouldn’t make sense to meet with the U.S. Secretary of State to talk about something that’s already being discussed.”
AMLO said on Twitter that he had a “productive and friendly” meeting with Blinken and Raimondo.
U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Ken Salazar also posted his two cents on Twitter.
”By relaunching HLED, Presidents Biden and López Obrador reaffirmed their commitment to our economic ties, USMCA, growth, jobs, development, regional competitiveness and shared prosperity for our nations,” Salazar wrote.