President López Obrador described the new North American free trade agreement as a “great achievement” Wednesday afternoon during an address to the media alongside United States President Donald Trump at the White House.
Speaking in the Rose Garden after a meeting with Trump in the Oval Office, López Obrador said the USMCA will benefit Mexico, the United States and Canada and allow “greater integration of our economies.”
He said the new agreement, which replaced NAFTA on July 1, will help to generate more jobs and stem migration from Mexico to its northern neighbor.
The pact will enable the three countries “to march together into the future,” López Obrador said.
In a lengthy address on a hot day in the U.S. capital, López Obrador declared that Trump has treated Mexico with respect since he took office in late 2018, an assertion he also made earlier this week to brush off criticism of his trip to Washington.
“During my term as president of Mexico, instead of insults toward me, and … more importantly toward my country, we’ve received understanding and respect,” he said.
López Obrador said the United States president has never tried to “impose” anything on Mexico that violates the country’s sovereignty and “hasn’t tried to treat us as a colony.” Both are claims that some might challenge by pointing to the blanket tariffs Trump threatened to place on Mexican imports if the country didn’t do more to stem the flow of migrants to the U.S.
Citing the examples of former presidents Benito Juárez and Abraham Lincoln – whose memorials he visited earlier on Wednesday – and subsequently Lázaro Cárdenas and Franklin D. Roosevelt, López Obrador said that “history teaches us” that it is possible for Mexican and United States presidents to understand each other and work well together.
Any differences between Mexico and the United States can be resolved through dialogue, he said.
“Some people thought that our ideological differences would inevitably lead us to confrontation,” López Obrador said, referencing his and Trump’s opposing positions on the political spectrum. “Fortunately, this bad omen didn’t come true.”
López Obrador concluded his address by wishing “long life” to the Mexico-United States friendship, the U.S., Canada, “our America” and of course, Mexico.
“Viva México!” he repeated three times before Trump thanked him for his “beautiful job.”
Speaking before his Mexican counterpart, Trump declared that he has an “outstanding” relationship with López Obrador and that the ties between the United States and Mexico have “never been closer” and “never been stronger.”
“People were betting against that but … we’re doing a tremendous job together. We’re cherished friends, partners and neighbors. Our cooperation is founded on mutual trust and mutual respect between the two of us and between our two countries,” he said.
“With his visit President López Obrador and I have the opportunity to strengthen the bond we have forged since his impressive election victory more than two years ago. … Each of us was elected on the pledge to fight corruption, return power to the people and put the interests of our countries first. And I do that and you do that, Mr. President,” Trump said.
The U.S. president said that he and López Obrador are “building a powerful economic and security partnership,” adding that “together we have addressed many of the most complex issues facing our two countries.”
Trump said that the USMCA was the “largest, fairest and most advanced trade deal ever reached” and that it “includes groundbreaking labor protections for workers in both nations.”
“This landmark agreement will bring countless jobs from overseas back to North America and our countries will be very big beneficiaries,” he said.
Trump also said that the U.S. and Mexican governments are cooperating closely to stop the illicit cross border flow of drugs, guns, cash and contraband, “and very importantly stopping human trafficking.”
“We’re forging critical partnerships across the Western Hemisphere to combat the cartels and the smugglers and to ensure safe, humane and lawful migration. … We’ve been helped greatly by Mexico in creating record numbers in a positive sense on our southern border,” he said, presumably referring to the deployment of the National Guard in Mexico to block migrants’ path to the U.S.
Trump made no mention of his long-promised border wall, which he has claimed Mexico will fund.
Following their remarks, the two presidents signed what Trump described as “a joint declaration committing ourselves to a shared future of prosperity, security and harmony.”
They didn’t take questions from reporters.
Trump will host López Obrador, Mexican government officials and business people at a White House event on Wednesday night that a senior U.S official described as a state dinner “lite” within the context of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The Mexican delegation, which also includes Foreign Minister Ebrard, Economy Minister Graciela Márquez and López Obrador’s chief of staff Alfonso Romo, will return home on Thursday.
Mexico News Daily