top of page
Image by Augustine Wong

2023 North American Leaders’ Summit: A New Chance for Cooperation in the Western Hemisphere?

Updated: Sep 13, 2023

By Clarissa Bigasz Mascarenhas


After a rough start in the US-Mexican relationship, Presidents Biden and López together with Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau strengthened their partnerships and advanced shared priorities at the 2023 North American Leaders’ Summit at the beginning of January. Their main goal is to foster a shared outlook for North America, building on past achievements and introducing new initiatives and declarations. What are these new plans and could they help promote cooperation in the Western Hemisphere?



© The New York Times

After a rough start in the US-Mexican relationship, Presidents Biden and López together with Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau strengthened their partnerships and advanced shared priorities at the 2023 North American Leaders’ Summit at the beginning of January. Their main goal is to foster a shared outlook for North America, building on past achievements and introducing new initiatives and declarations. What are these new plans and could they help promote cooperation in the Western Hemisphere?

Introduction

The North American Leaders’ Summit is an annual conference for the Heads of Government of the US, Mexico, and Canada to exchange ideas and discuss challenges. Since 2005, the three countries have been meeting to build upon the vision of a safe, prosperous, and secure future for the citizens of all three countries. Although meetings are rarely cancelled, none were held between 2017 and 2020 during the Trump administration.


When President Biden was elected in 2020, President Lopéz was one of the last world leaders to recognize the validity of the US electoral process. Mexico’s position suggested that relations between the two countries of the Northern Hemisphere were not fruitful.


However, this critical relationship started to shift when the US President made significant efforts to establish a personal relationship with the Mexican leader. Mr López has come to recognize the value of having a good rapport with the United States.


Although the 2023 Summit had limited success in terms of producing new policies, the government’s official websites have released a list of key points on which the US, Mexico, and Canada will focus in the near future.


This includes common issues like economic growth, global warming, the coronavirus pandemic, and illicit transnational networks trafficking and smuggling humans and narcotics, like fentanyl.


Economic Growth


The North American leaders highlighted the region’s competitiveness as a crucial asset to cultivate a sustainable and inclusive economy that can inspire innovation and progress. To this end, the three countries will deepen economic collaboration, boost investment, and strengthen competitiveness, invention, and robustness. Among the new initiatives, there is the ambition of organizing the first-ever trilateral semiconductor forum.


This will bring together industry stakeholders and government officials from Canada, Mexico, and the United States in 2023 to discuss tailored policy approaches and amplify investments in semiconductor supply chains across North America.


This proposal aims to strengthen the nation’s supply chains in the face of the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and position the region in light of the increasing conflict between China and the United States.


Moreover, Presidents Biden, Lopéz and PM Trudeau proposed a partnership to build the North America Student Mobility Project. The overall goal is to expand the public-private partnership with the region’s private sector. This action seeks to increase student development and mobility, with the addition of Canada and Mexico as co-government partners.


Additionally, a call was proposed for design sessions with industry and academic experts on the skills necessary to develop the North American workforce over the next five years. Predominantly in the semiconductor market, ICT, biomanufacturing and other important advanced manufacturing and logistics industries.


Global Warming


Global Warming was a heavily discussed topic that generated some initiatives to be implemented soon. As a result, the North American leaders agreed to take ambitious and coordinated action to tackle the climate crisis. For instance, all countries committed to reducing methane emissions from the solid waste and wastewater sector by at least fifteen per cent by 2030.


A Food Loss and Waste Reduction Action Plan was furthermore proposed to cut food and water waste in half by the end of 2030. Moreover, it was committed to further trilateral cooperation to conserve 30 per cent of the world’s land and ocean area by 2030, resulting in the promotion of indigenous-driven conservation through existing plans, such as the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.


Collaboration in the Fight against Pandemics


Learning from the Covid-19 Pandemic, North American leaders agreed to collaborate on a new and improved approach to strengthen prevention, preparedness, and response to health crises through a revised version of the North American Plan for Animal and Pandemic Influenza. This refitted framework will allow for enhanced coordination and flexibility in responding to health security threats that may occur in the foreseeable future.


Immigration


The recent alteration of the US Immigration Policy was a salient issue at the summit, specifically in bilateral meetings between the US and Mexico. Nevertheless, at the end of the two-day meeting, the leaders of North America reconfirmed their commitment to cooperate in creating safe, orderly, and humane migration in the region.


The US, Mexico, and Canada agreed to advance legal pathways and other humane approaches to irregular migration. This includes finalizing and executing the trilateral Extending Development Partnerships Action Plan and introducing a virtual platform to help migrants access legal pathways.


Additionally, Canada and the US will collaborate with Mexico’s joint initiative with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, to develop a centre in Tapachula, Mexico, to give promptness, efficiency, and fairness of asylum processing systems to refugees, counteracting xenophobia and discrimination.


Combat of Arms, People, and Drugs Trafficking


The United States, Canada, and Mexico have committed to collaborating on the shared threat of arms, drugs, and human trafficking. This includes resuming a dialogue to cooperate against labour and sex trafficking within the region.


Moreover, the leaders agreed on continuing collaboration within the North American Drug Dialogue to address illegal drug threats and strengthen public health approaches.


One of the new initiatives drafted by Presidents Biden, Lopéz and PM Trudeau regards the development of a unified North American position for the collection, storage, use, sharing, and retention of passenger name record data.


In other words, this measure aims to facilitate the exchange of information between the three countries, helping to secure and prevent possible loopholes within the processing of people crossing borders.


Outlook


The 2023 North American Leaders’ Summit resulted in a reaffirmation of the three countries’ commitment to advance cooperation and initiatives to ensure a safe, prosperous, and secure future for the region’s citizens.



Together with Mexico and Canada, the ‘Three Amigos’ still have tricky topics to develop a united front on, such as energy. Nevertheless, this year’s meeting can be seen as the beginning of better rapport between the countries.


The newly proposed initiatives will ensure that Biden, Lopéz and Trudeau can strive for a more constructive and collective vision for North America.




Sources: The White House, Montreal Gazette, NPR, Foreign Policy Magazine, Convention on Biological Diversity, Government of Canada, UNHCR, The Washington Post, Euronews.



Written by Clarissa Bigasz Mascarenhas

January 2023


3 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page