President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico (often referred to as AMLO) will join President Trump at the White House on Wednesday amid continued coronavirus concerns and celebrations of the new trade deal between Mexico, Canada and the United States.
Gustavo Flores-Macias is an associate professor of government at Cornell University and the former Director of Public Affairs in Mexico’s Consumer Protection Agency. He says that for President López Obrador, economic benefits of the meeting will outweigh potential political risks.
“The meeting between President Trump and Mexico's president López Obrador in Washington, DC has been widely criticized on both sides of the border. Critics in Mexico lament that Trump has repeatedly insulted Mexicans, continued to build a wall between the two countries, adopted inhumane detention and deportation policies, threatened to designate Mexican drug trafficking organizations as terrorist organizations and bullied Mexico and Canada into renegotiating NAFTA. Opponents also point to an awkward potential electoral boost for Trump toward November's presidential election in the U.S.
“These criticisms gloss over the vast asymmetry that characterizes the bilateral relationship and how much Mexico depends on the U.S. economically. In spite of ideological differences between the two presidents, maintaining a harmonious relationship with the U.S. remains crucial for Mexico. In particular, making sure that there is a smooth implementation of the new USMCA will be a central item on the meeting's agenda. Due to COVID-19's significant impact on Mexico's economy, the government will seek to consolidate USMCA as an engine for growth in the coming years. Although meeting with Trump will bring political costs to President Lopez Obrador, the economic benefits for the country outweigh the potential risks.”