U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and senior trade officials are heading to Mexico on Monday for high-level economic talks aimed at repairing ties that have frayed over immigration and other issues.
“In addition to the High-Level Economic Dialogue, Secretary Blinken plans to meet with President (Andres Manuel) López Obrador and Foreign Secretary (Marcelo) Ebrard to discuss the bilateral economic relationship and other shared policy priorities such as irregular migration and stopping fentanyl smuggling,” said the State Department’s top official for Latin America, Brian Nichols, on Friday.
Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo and Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Jayme White are also in the U.S. delegation.
Mexico is consistently among the United States’ top three trading partners.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, Mexico was the U.S.’s second-largest export market in 2020.
Blinken’s meeting with Lopez Obrador in Mexico City comes two months after U.S. President Joe Biden met with the Mexican president at the White House, where Biden said the two neighbors need to rebuild relations.
In June, Lopez Obrador boycotted the Summit of the Americas hosted by the U.S. because the talks excluded leaders from Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela. The summit was aimed at promoting democracy and tackling issues including migration.
U.S. officials say the influx of illegal immigrants who cross the U.S.-Mexico border have created strains in the United States. In recent months, the state of Texas has sent thousands of migrants by bus to New York and Washington, saying the move was needed to relieve overwhelmed border communities.
The U.S. and Mexico are also at odds over energy policy. The United States has questioned the Mexican government’s support for its own state-controlled energy companies, saying it violates a trade pact and restricts American firms’ ability to compete in Mexico.
Mexican Foreign Minister Ebrard said energy policies are not on the agenda for Monday’s talks.