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As Prepared

Ambassador Wayne, let me begin by thanking you for inviting me to speak on this panel today and thank you for all your years of service at the Department. I would also like to thank the Wilson Center’s efforts in organizing this event and for looking at strategies to ensure a better future for our three countries. It’s an honor to share this platform today with my friends Michael Grant and Roberto Velasco.

It is especially fitting to speak to you today, after what has literally been seven days of high-level diplomacy between the United States and our neighbors, Canada and Mexico. There are plenty of other metrics we can use to describe diplomatic relations, but meetings and calls matter. Both President Biden and Secretary of State Blinken held their first calls with their North American counterparts. President Biden held virtual meetings, last Tuesday with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and yesterday with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

Last Friday, I joined Secretary Blinken for a virtual trip to both countries. I am sure all of you miss travel the way I do, but with the pandemic still underway, we used our creativity to hold virtually the kinds of events that you see in a Secretary of State trip. Secretary Blinken not only held virtual meetings with his Canadian and Mexican counterparts and engaged with the press, he spoke to the teams of diplomats at our missions in Ottawa and Mexico City. He interacted with Canadian student alumni of a U.S. public diplomacy program built around the shared challenges and opportunities Canada and the United States face as Arctic nations. He also toured the Port of Entry between El Paso and Ciudad Juarez.

With these initial engagements, you may have heard the word “renewal” a lot. And the reasons for this renewal is clear: we have 8000 miles of border with Mexico and Canada, which prior to COVID-19 saw the daily movement of 1 million people in 515,000 vehicles and $3.9 billion in daily trade. The three countries of North America are interconnected in our people to people ties, our trade, and our security. It is clear that the opportunities and markets for our workers, factories, and farmers, managing the COVID-19 pandemic, building more secure supply chains, addressing climate change, and reducing irregular migration – demand that we work together.

With Canada, we have no greater friend, and we set out a roadmap to address everything from COVID 19, the Arctic, climate, defense, critical minerals, global alliances, how to keep our borders open to essential travel and maintain critical supply chains. Secretary Blinken said “when we work together, we are “democratic and diplomatic force multipliers for each other.” I truly believe that.

With Mexico, we pledged to coordinate closely to manage irregular migration through a safe, orderly and humane approach, to address the root causes and be committed, really committed, to that – that means not only assistance but working hand in hand with governments in the region, the private sector, civil society, international organizations, and other partners. Security cooperation is of course an integral part of our partnership, to address transnational organized crime and drugs and arms trafficking. The President said yesterday that we are equals and that what Mexico does and how it succeeds impacts dramatically on what the rest of the hemisphere will look like.

Not to say we don’t have our differences and challenges, but our three countries are so intertwined that we must work together to solve these challenges. We must work on implementing the USMCA as a driver for prosperity and growth, especially as we build back better and stronger from COVID, work on shared challenges on energy security and supply chains. With the upcoming Climate Leaders Summit, we have an opportunity to push each other to do better to build resilience to climate effects. We have shared values for democracy and human rights in the hemisphere.

And as the United States rejoins WHO, the HRC, and the Paris Agreement, we need our friends and neighbors – Mexico and Canada – more than ever to approach global challenges together and reinforce our relationships bilaterally, trilaterally, and in the multilateral fora. So I am very excited and optimistic about a New Future for North America. And I look forward to hearing the ideas in this forum today on how to forge these relationships in the coming year.

U.S. Department of State

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