A Conversation on President Obama’s Trip to Mexico for the North American Leaders’ Summit

Ahead of President Obama’s trip to Mexico for the North American Leaders’ Summit, where he will meet with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Brookings scholars Arturo Sarukhan, Alan Berube, Joshua Meltzer and Vanda Felbab-Brown discuss the summit’s top agenda items, including trade and investment, NAFTA, economic competitiveness, entrepreneurship and security. 

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Arturo Sarukhan:

“I think the North American Leaders’ Summit comes at a very appropriate time.  Number one, because obviously we’ve just observed the 20th anniversary of the signing the ratification of NAFTA, and it’s a good time to take stock of how NAFTA has and has not worked and sort of what are the opportunities and challenges ahead of us.”

Alan Berube:

“About two-thirds of what our three countries trade together comes out of or eventually ends up in a major metropolitan area.  So, for the three leaders a question is how to strengthen the position of cities and regions in trade in order to boost the competitiveness of North America in the global economy.”

Joshua Meltzer:

“Certainly the fact that it’s 20 years after NAFTA is going to be sort of a touchstone and an opportunity to revisit what that trade deal has meant and what could be done going forward. But there’s also enabling context around that which I think where some of the major challenges now lie … infrastructure obviously.  I think immigration is going to be an ongoing issue.”

Vanda Felbab-Brown:

“The security situation continues to be unresolved, in fact, is challenging and so does U.S.-Mexico cooperation on security continues to be challenged ever since President Peña Nieto came to power with many programs stopped or aborted and very much a sense of frustration in Washington that there is very little clarity as to what Mexico security policy is and what kind of role the United States could play in it.”