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Trump, Lopez Obrador celebrate USMCA with joint declaration

By
Don Jacobson & Daniel Uria
President Donald Trump (L) welcomes President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to the White House in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. Photo by Al Drago/UPI
President Donald Trump (L) welcomes President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to the White House in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. Photo by Al Drago/UPI | License Photo

July 8 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador signed a joint declaration on Wednesday in celebration of the new North American trade deal.

For his first trip outside Mexico since his 2018 election, Lopez Obrador visited Trump to mark the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which formally replaced the Clinton-era North American Free Trade Agreement on July 1.

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"The USMCA reaffirms our shared understanding that North America is a region that generates prosperity for all of its citizens and it strengthens our cooperation in fighting corruption through the strongest disciplines on corruption in international trade of any international agreement," the declaration stated.

The two leaders, who have often been critical of each other in the past, praised each other, with Trump saying that the relationship between the two countries is "all very positive."

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"With everything that we have accomplished, the potential for the future of the United States and Mexico is unlimited," Trump said.

Obrador lauded the USMCA for integrating the three countries, as they will all contribute productive capacity, technology, experience, expertise and labor.

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"For instance, Mexico has something which is extremely valuable to make this economic integration effective and to boost this integration -- economic and commercial integration -- in the region. I'm talking about this very young, creative and responsible labor force," he said.

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was invited to the summit, but did not attend. A spokesperson said scheduling conflicts and coronavirus restrictions interfered with plans to travel to Washington, D.C.

"We want to thank Canada, also," Trump said. "I spoke with and will be speaking to the prime minister in a little while."

Lopez Obrador will attend a working dinner Wednesday evening in the East Room, where he and Trump will speak to the press.

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The Mexican leader's U.S. visit has been criticized in Mexico as possibly politically beneficial for Trump.

In an open letter last month, former foreign minister Bernardo Sepulveda argued there's no justification for Wednesday's "irrelevant ceremony," which he said could help Trump's campaign. He attacked Trump for "vilifying" Mexicans and "attacking, stigmatizing, offending and humiliating" Mexican migrants by calling them "criminals and rapists."

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Lopez Obrador has in the past expressed a personal friendship with Trump, who tweeted in December that the Mexican leader is someone he "likes" and "respects."

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