The Three Amigos? A Summit Struggling to Succeed.

A review of the "Three Amigos Summit" to evaluate whether it was a success or failure.

Ross Bennett
28th November 2021
The three flags of the USA, Mexico and Canada. Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons.
To say the “Three Amigos” summit – a gathering between the leaders of Canada, Mexico and the United States – was a success would be the grandest of overstatements. Making Chevy Chase and Co. seem like diplomatic geniuses; Trudeau, Obrador and Biden seemed to meander their ways through the talks.

Of course, there was the atmospheric sheen of political camaraderie that President Biden had tried to instill in the majority of his discussions with foreign leaders – likely to present a cleaner image of an American president to wash out the inflammatory stain left by his predecessor. But whilst there was the overtly artificial sense that the trio got along, it seemed that very little headway was made in actual talks.

It can be said that there were some successes, although meagre ones at that. The North American leaders reached an agreement on sharing vaccines; such an agreement is crucial considering a new strain of Covid-19 has been discovered named Omicron, and vaccines will be needed to further protect people. There was a mostly positive discussion about possible supply chain issues, which the three leaders agreed to address further by forming a working group. There was even a pledge to focus efforts on the overdose epidemic sweeping the continent, with work being done with the North American Drug Dialogue (NADD) Yet these high points were few and far between.

Frankly, little headway was made in areas in real need of diplomacy. There was no commitment on the US-Mexico border issues and its accompanying migrant crisis. Instead, President Obrador praised the Biden administration’s amnesty and preferred to discuss the ‘root causes’ of migration. This completely ignores the growing complaints about the lack of security on the border, something that is very worrisome for swaths of the population. It seems the border situation will only deteriorate further if the current administration continues to pretend as if it’s little more than Republican rhetoric.

A rather large sticking point was found in the automobile trade; a symptom of Biden’s Build Back Better initiative would mean that Americans would receive tax credits on electric vehicles – yet only if they’re made in US. Whilst this would be a victory for the American driver concerned with the environment, it would by no means help the automobile industry supplied by Canada and Mexico. Canada and Mexico supply billions of dollars’ worth of parts to the US auto industry annually and this kind of legislation would see them getting cut out of needed trade. Whilst Trudeau did mention he was concerned, little was done to alleviate any concerns.

Candidly, this year’s Three Amigos summit was at best mediocre. At worst? Another unneeded disappointment added to Biden’s glooming collection due to the failure to engage with several issues. Unmistakably, the burden of these talks weighs heavily on the American’s shoulders. Whilst President Biden is excellent at smiles and handshakes, he has not shown himself to be any kind of political maverick on the world stage. Biden needs to learn fast how to manage these summits, otherwise the USA could suffer in the event of future domestic and foreign crises.

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