World

North American leaders meet to discuss trade and immigration

The leaders of the three major North American countries have met in Mexico to discuss trade, immigration, energy and other issues.
On Wednesday, US President Obama, Mexico’s Enrique Peña Nieto and Canada’s PM Stephen Harper held a hemispheric summit.
Mr Obama faces stiff opposition from his own Congress on parts of his agenda on cross-border issues.
The three countries are in the midst of negotiating a trans-Pacific trade deal.
On Tuesday, Mr Harper arrived a day early for talks with Mr Peña Nieto. The two countries also signed an agreement to expand air travel between them.
Mr Obama arrived on Wednesday afternoon in Toluca, Mexico, a growing city near Mexico’s capital, and held a meeting with Mr Peña Nieto.
The summit among the three nations, will highlight the changes to their economies in the 20 years since a major trade agreement among them, NAFTA, took effect.
But further trade links between Canada, Mexico and the US remain subject to the negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Canada and Mexico joined the negotiations of this wider trade deal among the Americas, Asia and Pacific island nations in the last two years.
White House officials have said Mr Obama will make it clear to Mr Peña Nieto and Mr Harper that TPP negotiations should be completed this year.
But parts of Mr Obama’s own Democratic Party have pushed back against elements of the negotiations.
“He is pursuing an agreement – TPP – that explicitly protects American workers and the environment and that he believes would be highly beneficial to our economy and the middle class,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters on the flight to Mexico.
“That’s the conversation he has and others have with lawmakers of both parties.”
Mexico is also eager to hear about US immigration reform, as legal and illegal immigration to the US has a widespread economic effect on both countries and many migrants in the US have relatives in Mexico.
Far-reaching immigration legislation was passed by the Democratic-controlled US Senate last year. But similar legislation has an unclear path in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, despite Mr Obama’s calls to pass comprehensive reform.
Canada’s government has also been eager to hear the United States’ final decision on whether it will allow an oil pipeline, known as Keystone XL, to be built to carry tar sand oil from Alberta in Canada to refineries in the US.
A recent US state department report raised no major environmental objections, but the department is waiting on comment from other US agencies before making an official recommendation to Mr Obama.
Mr Peña Nieto may also bring up revelations from leaks by Edward Snowden that the National Security Agency spied on the Mexican president before he was elected and gained access to former President Felipe Calderon’s email system when he was in office.
Another source of tension between the two countries is the recent execution in the US state of Texas of a Mexican national convicted of murder.
– BBC News

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