Monday, June 27, 2016

 

Adios,Three Amigos: Obama heads to last summit with Canada, Mexico

President Barack Obama will meet with the leaders of Canada and Mexico on Wednesday for his final "Three Amigos" summit, a meeting that may signal how keen the North American partners are to tout trade at a time of rising protectionist sentiment.

The Ottawa summit comes on the heels of Britain voting to leave the European Union after more than 40 years. It also falls ahead of a U.S. presidential election on Nov. 8 where presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump has made stagnant wages and U.S. manufacturing job losses focal points of his insurgent campaign.

The so-called Brexit vote is bound to be an important theme for Obama's meetings with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Canada had negotiated a trade deal with the EU that is slated to take effect next year. The Brexit may delay its ratification and hurt Canada's commodity-driven economy.

The referendum results are also seen as a setback to talks on a U.S.-EU trade deal. Mexico, which already has a trade deal with the EU, has prepared a draft proposal for a pact with the United Kingdom.

At the summit, leaders will also look at how best to foster trade with each other, said Mexico's Finance Minister Luis Videgaray.

"One of the important issues, without doubt, is how to give a fresh impulse and greater value to North American integration," Videgaray said.

All three are part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the 12-nation trade deal that Obama had cast as an update of the North American Free Trade Agreement. He wants to finalize the TPP as part of his economic legacy in Asia.

The TPP has become a target of both the left and the right in the U.S. election, and Congress has so far been unenthusiastic about ratifying the deal.

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