North American leaders met on Wednesday to protect free trade from possible future threats. Leaders of Canada, Mexico, and the United States presented their wills to empower their economies by integration means.

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and US President Barack Obama met on Wednesday at the North America’s Leaders Summit at the National Gallery of Canada, in Ottawa, as part of a trilateral meeting to expose their commitment to free trade as a solution to face globalization.

Mexican President Pena Nieto, Canadian PM Trudeau and U.S. President Obama pose for a group photo at the North American Leaders’ Summit in Ottawa. Image courtesy of Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

Agreements during The North American Leaders’ Summit

During the meeting, the “Three Amigos”, as the conference was called, built alliances for future environmental, energetic and economic projects in their countries. The Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, proposed as a first agreement the production of half of North America’s electricity by 2025 with clean energy. The leaders pointed out that by the clean energy they do not refer only to renewable energies but also projects to generate nuclear power, storage plants, and energy efficiency.

Moreover, the three leaders showed concerns about the challenges free trade might face if the US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who has expressed his opposition to free trade because he considers it has been disastrous for the global economy, becomes the leader of the United States. The trilateral relationship might be fragmented due to Mr. Trump’s disagreement with free trade strategy.

No more free trade if Trump wins US presidency

The nominee for the U.S. presidency, Donald Trump, questions the benefits of free trade, and he has stated that if he wins November’s elections for US presidency, he will renegotiate or scrap the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta). This means that despite Canada, the United States and Mexico’s initiative to empower free trade, it will be at risk.

During the joint news conference, each representative warned citizens to be aware of not picking up populism as the next government style for the US. Such warning was accentuated particularly by Peña Nieto and Obama, who encouraged people to be cautious about “easy” answers populists present as a viable solution for the complex problems of globalization.

Mr. Peña Nieto pointed out the dangers and results of former populists; such is the case of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. With this statement, Peña Nieto made a call for reflection and recognition. As per Mexico’s President, citizens need to keep into consideration what has been achieved so far regarding globalization issues, but there is still so much work to do.

Further on, Nieto expressed his concerns about “populism and demagoguery” as strategies sadly used for some politicians to face challenges that are so much more complicated from what populists believe. However, Peña Nieto promised that the three nations would continue to work together regardless whoever gets this year’s U.S. presidential election.

In turn, President Obama gave a little bit of context about populism and the extent the tendency has reached over the years. He worried about United States future if a populist like Trump wins presidential elections.

“I’m not prepared to concede the notion that some of the rhetoric that’s been popping up is populist. Somebody else who has never shown any regard for workers […] in fact, have worked against the economic opportunity for workers and ordinary people, they don’t suddenly become a populist because they say something controversial in order to win votes. That’s not the measure of populism. That’s nativism, or xenophobia, or worse,” said Obama.

Trump’s populist strategies have nevertheless found empathy in some American voters. His position regarding free trade has been well stated by questioning the benefits of it and suggesting he would be radical with the immigration of Mexicans and any other foreign.

The three North American leaders, on the other hand, opposed Trump’s position by arguing that the United States is a land where everybody could come without distinction of nationalities. Moreover, Trudeau said that the three of them could only “protect” free trade by providing reliable results to help the global and individual economy.

“America is a nation of immigrants. That is our strength. The notion that we would somehow stop now on what has been a tradition of attracting talent and strivers and dreamers from all around the world that would rob us of the thing that is most special about America,” Obama said.

According to Obama, the key to developing an advantageous economy for everybody, the world needs more interconnected actions from every country.  Mr. Obama added that instead of pulling back free trade, people have to work together in the development of rules beneficial for both: workers and business industries.

Trudeau stated that relationships between three countries go beyond than any individual leader politics and what has been forged so far by the three countries should remain as a model project to keep working on the welfare of the United States, Mexico, and Canada.

Source: Business Times