MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico’s economy minister rebuked the United States ahead of a North American leaders summit for pursuing what she described as protectionist policies that were liable to backfire and spur immigration.
Economy Minister Tatiana Clouthier, who will attend the gathering of the leaders of Mexico, the United States and Canada in Washington on Thursday, said she had never expected the United States to become so closed economically.
“The way I’ve seen them close themselves, they’ve closed themselves off and protected themselves, it’s incomprehensible from my perspective,” she told website Codigo Magenta in an interview broadcast on Tuesday.
“And this business of them apparently not wanting migration coming their way, they’re causing it by closing themselves off. And if they carry on, they’ll cause more of it,” she added, noting protectionist measures undermined Mexico’s labor market.
Detentions of illegal immigrants on the U.S.-Mexico border have surged this year, piling pressure on U.S. President Joe Biden to curb the flow of people and tighten the frontier.
Clouthier is part of the delegation traveling with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador for his Thursday meetings with Biden and Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
She said a dispute with Washington over the interpretation of regional content rules for the auto industry under a North American trade pact was “really hurting” Mexico.
Rather than pushing a “Buy American” agenda, the United States should focus on “Buy North American,” she argued.
“Why? Because we’re a region. And President Lopez Obrador has said it to Biden, he’s said it to Kamala,” she added, referring to U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris.
“He’s said if we don’t see ourselves as a region, we won’t be able to deal with the challenges we have in the world.”
(Reporting by Dave Graham)
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