News

North American Leaders' Summit Focuses on Economy, Drugs, Trade

U.S. President Barack Obama, (C), Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper (R), and Mexico's President Felipe Calderon (L) walk out of the Oval Office before a joint press conference in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, April 2, 2012.
U.S. President Barack Obama, (C), Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper (R), and Mexico's President Felipe Calderon (L) walk out of the Oval Office before a joint press conference in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, April 2, 2012.

President Barack Obama hosted the sixth North American Leaders' Summit on Monday, welcoming Mexican President Felipe Calderon and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to the White House. They discussed economic, trade and energy issues and joint efforts against transnational drug gangs.   

The last North American summit was in 2009, though the three men have met at the G8 and G20, and summits of APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation).

The U.S., Mexico and Canada are linked in the North American Free Trade Agreement signed in 1994.  Last year, total U.S. trade in goods with its two neighbors exceeded $1 trillion for the first time.

President Obama noted that this supports about 2.5 million American jobs.  He said the leaders discussed ongoing steps to create economic opportunity, and increase exports.

"We are doing everything we can to speed up the recovery and that includes boosting trade with our two largest economic partners.  As president, I have made it a priority to increase our exports and I am pleased that our exports to Canada and Mexico are growing faster than our exports to the rest of the world," Obama said.

Another major focus of the summit was the high stakes battle against trans-national drug and criminal organizations that are challenging governments in Mexico and Central America.

The United States is providing $1.6 billion in aid to Mexico, where drug-related violence has left as many as 50,000 people dead since a government crackdown began in 2006.  U.S. aid to Central American nations exceeds $300 million.

In translated remarks, President Calderon said he urged President Obama and Prime Minister Harper to continue their efforts against weapons trafficking and to reduce the demand for drugs.

"The fight that Mexico is experiencing for a safer North America also requires a strengthening of national actions, among other things to stop the trafficking of weapons, to combat with greater strength money laundering, and of course to reduce the demand for drugs that strengthens criminal organizations," Calderon said.

President Obama said drug violence can undermine institutions in Mexico and elsewhere and praised the Mexican government's response so far.

"I think the Mexican government has taken this very seriously, at great cost to itself.  We have an obligation to take it just as seriously in part because we are the ultimate destination for a large chunk of this market," Obama said.

Prime Minister Harper said trans-national drug crime requires a unified response. "The security challenge, particularly around the drug trade, is a serious regional problem throughout our hemisphere," Harper said.

President Obama also reiterated his determination to achieve comprehensive reform of the U.S. immigration system.  Opposition from Republicans in the U.S. Congress has frustrated his efforts.

The three leaders also discussed the emerging Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Canada and Mexico wish to join. Obama said each country in the group, and aspiring members, will have to make adjustments to maintain high standards.

Monday's summit was the last for Mr. Calderon, whose six-year term as president ends in November.  Mexico holds presidential elections on July 1.

President Obama, who is running for a second term, said he looks forward to having an "excellent working relationship" with the next president of Mexico.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs