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American Leaders Summit 2016

Trudeau, Obama, and Pena Nieto make the case for co-operation against Brexit backdrop, "nativism" in U.S. politics.

OTTAWA—The leaders of Canada, the United States and Mexico ended a quick one-day summit celebrating a new continental climate deal and pushing for international co-operation in the face of an isolationist streak in Western politics.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, U.S. President Barack Obama, and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto announced a new climate and clean energy deal that commits the three countries to generate 50 per cent of electricity from “clean” sources by 2025.
The deal also commits the countries to phase out “inefficient” fossil fuel subsidies by 2025, decrease methane emissions, and invest in clean energy projects to help workers affected by the transition away from fossil fuels.

“The agreement that we’ve concluded today values our shift towards clear renewable energy,” Trudeau said at a joint press conference at the National Art Gallery in Ottawa.

“How we work together . . . as three countries on energy solutions that give opportunities to our citizens while protecting future generations from the impacts of climate change is something that we are all entirely agreed on.”

That theme of North American co-operation was emphasized by all three leaders, particularly in response to questions about the United Kingdom’s decision to split from the European Union and presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump’s pledge to renegotiate or leave the North American Free Trade Agreement.

U.S. President Barack Obama seemed to take a shot directly at Trump, suggesting some politicians are exploiting bad economic times and concerns about immigration to win votes.

“Somebody else who has never shown any regard for workers, has never fought on behalf of social justice issues . . . . They don’t suddenly become populist because they say something controversial in order to win votes,” Obama said.

“That’s not the nature of populism. That’s nativism, or xenophobia, or worse. Or it’s just cynicism.”

Trudeau and Pena Nieto were more reserved in their comments on Trump, as both may be faced with the possibility of having to work with a Trump White House.

But both agreed for the need for international co-operation, rather than countries turning inward.

“Isolation is not the solution,” Pena Nieto said.

The three countries agreed to establish what they’re calling the North American Caucus, a trilateral committee of foreign ministers that will meet twice annually to “enhance co-operation on regional and global priorities.”

On trade, the leaders agreed to “liberalize” NAFTA country of origin rules on products like pharmaceuticals, natural gas, and metals. Each country will also create a single portal for cross-border businesses to submit information required to comply with regulations.

Obama also used the summit, as well as his speech in the House of Commons, to push the benefits of the massive Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

“The politics of trade are always difficult in every country. I don’t know any country where there aren’t going to be some folks who argue against trade,” Obama said.

“But we all believe that in an integrated global economy, the goal is not for us to try and shut ourselves off from the world, but rather to work together to raise standards around the world, for workers, for the environment.”


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