Presidents Calderón & Obama pledge to support a series of joint initiatives

By Jon H. Harsch

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Washington, May 19 – With fanfare, trumpets and drummers, President Obama welcomed Mexican President Felipe Calderón to Washington Wednesday. Here on a two-day state visit which will include an address to Congress Thursday, Calderón echoed Obama in stressing that “The United States and Mexico are nations that trade, dialogue, and complement each other economically and mutually.”

In their opening statements, an afternoon press conference, and a joint communiqué, the two presidents repeatedly mentioned the importance of working together on a variety of economic, border-control, immigration, anti-drug and climate change initiatives. In one of his frequent mentions of the importance of job creation, Obama said that “The trade and tourism between us creates jobs and prosperity for both our peoples.” He added that “Mexico is one of our largest trading partners, with trade that supports countless jobs here in America and in Mexico. And because 80 percent of the trade passes over our land border, we reaffirmed our commitment to a 21st century border that is modern, secure and efficient. And we’re directing our governments to develop an action plan to move in this direction, because our shared border must be an engine, and not a brake, on our economic growth.”

Mexican President Felipe Calderón addressing a special U.S. Chamber of Commerce meeting to honor his
state visit to Washington, DC. Photo: Agri-Pulse.

Obama did not mention last year’s congressional action which ended the pilot program which had allowed Mexican trucks to operate in the U.S., as required under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) – but Calderón did. The Mexican President said that his private discussions with Obama Wednesday morning covered “the different obstacles that are there for complying with transportation obligations that have been established at NAFTA, a situation that impacts jobs, companies and consumers in Mexico and in the United States. And we shall work in order to achieve a quick solution with a constructive, creative solution in the long term in this and many other areas.”

Obama did mention renewable energy several times, as in his remark that “To create clean energy jobs and industries of the future, we’re building on a partnership we launched last year with new initiatives to promote regional renewable energy markets, green buildings and smart grid technology.” He said this partnership will support “increasing grid reliability and resiliency, including collaboration on smart grid standards and technology to make energy use more efficient and reliable in both Mexico and the United States.”

Obama noted that in response to the BP Deepwater Horizon blowout, the two countries will work together “to seek a moratorium on exploitation activities along the maritime boundary in the Western Gap in the Gulf of Mexico.”

The presidents also pledged cooperation in tightening security along a “Twenty-First Century Border” and fighting transnational organized crime by reducing U.S. demand for drugs and taking more measures in the U.S. to limit the flow of cash and weapons to drug gangs in Mexico.

Both presidents agreed on the need to have Congress pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation which Obama indicated should include a long-term pathway to citizenship for migrants once they’ve paid all back taxes and complied with other obligations. They agreed that Arizona’s recent law targeting illegal aliens, as Obama said, “has the potential of being applied in a discriminatory fashion.” They indicated that Arizona is taking the wrong approach to a persistent problem which calls for a more comprehensive federal response. But Obama said solving the problem presents a “political challenge.” He explained that to pass comprehensive immigration reform, “I have confidence that I can get the majority of Democrats, both in the House and the Senate, to support a piece of legislation of the sort that I just described. But I don’t have 60 votes in the Senate. I’ve got to have some support from Republicans.”

For more information on the Chamber’s U.S.-Mexico Leadership Initiative, Vision 2020, go to:

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