With the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) recently going into effect on July 1, the President of Mexico made his first visit to the United States on Wednesday, July 8. This marks his first visit to the White House and his first foreign trip since taking office in December 2018; it comes ahead of the U.S. election cycle in November. President Andres Manuel López Obrador’s delegation includes Secretary of Foreign Relations Marcelo Ebrard Casaubon; Mexican Ambassador to the United States Martha Bárcena Coqui; Secretary of Economy Graciela Márquez Colín, and the head of the Office of the Presidency, Alfonso Romo Garza. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declined to join the meeting, which initially had been envisioned as a two-day North American Leaders Summit but has been pared back to one day.
President López Obrador started his Washington visit on Wednesday with stops at the Lincoln Memorial and the statue of Benito Juarez, a former president and national hero in Mexico. He will arrive at the White House later that afternoon for a private meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, before meeting with their respective delegations and signing a joint declaration. The day will conclude with a White House working dinner hosted that includes a group of business executives from both countries.
President López Obrador has previously touted President Trump’s assistance aiding Mexico in obtaining more ventilators to face the coronavirus pandemic and helping Mexico reach a deal with other oil-producing nations to cut production. It remains to be seen whether President Trump will raise López Obrador government’s rolling back a 2013-14 opening of the energy industry in favor of a state-led model, which could affect some U.S. contracts. Also likely on the agenda will be President Trump’s immigration policies, mutual efforts to combat narcotics, and efforts to mitigate coronavirus disruptions to keep commercial goods flowing across the border. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee sent a letter to President Trump encouraging to engage in a serious effort to enhance bilateral economic and security cooperation with President Obrador and to address the shared challenges that confront the two nations.
Approximately 20 business executives have reportedly been invited to the White House dinner, 10 from each country that represent the automotive, telecommunications and media, transportation, technology, energy and financial industries. The Mexican business executives accompanying President López Obrador are seeking to explore new possibilities offered by the USMCA in terms of investment, employment and well-being. They include: Carlos Slim Helú of Grupo Carso; Patricia Armendáriz Guerra from Financiera Sustentable; Carlos Bremer Gutiérrez of Grupo Financiero Value; Daniel Chávez Morán from Grupo Vidanta; Marcos Shabot Zonana of Architecture and Construction; Miguel Rincón Arredondo from Bio Pappel; Bernardo Gómez from Grupo Televisa; Carlos Hank González from Grupo Financiero Banorte; Francisco González Sánchez from Grupo Multimedios; Olegario Vázquez Aldir from Grupo Empresarial Ángeles and Ricardo Salinas Pliego from Grupo Salinas. These individuals are known to be close to the President of Mexico.
According to the Mexican Foreign Ministry, this visit will serve as an endorsement of the strategic alliance between Mexico and the United States. President Trump is set to participate in a roundtable with Hispanic Leaders at the White House on Thursday, July 9, which some see as an attempt to bolster support among Hispanic Americans as he seeks re-election.