Three Amigos Summit: What Trudeau, Obama and Pena Nieto agreed on

What did the Three Amigos discuss? The talks hadn't even started between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, U.S. President Barack Obama and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto when statements began circulating about what they would agree on.

Statements issued before leaders even sat down

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (centre), Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto (left) and U.S. President Barack Obama (right) laughed after fumbling a three-way handshake Wednesday at the North American Leaders Summit in Ottawa. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)

What did the Three Amigos discuss?

The talks hadn't even started between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, U.S. President Barack Obama and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto when statements began circulating about what they'd agree on.

Among the laundry list of shared priorities and work in progress, here's what caught our eye.

Climate change

Obama was barely off the plane when the White House announced a joint environmental action plan. (Canada's release soon followed.)

As CBC News reported earlier this week, the three countries want 50 per cent of their electricity to come from clean power generation by 2025. The plan includes support for cross-border transmission lines, including infrastructure for renewable energy.

There's also a plan to tackle short-lived pollutants, including cutting methane emissions from the oil and gas sector between 40 and 45 per cent by 2025, reducing black carbon (soot) emissions and finding alternatives to hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). 

The trio is also collaborating on green transportation strategies and conservation measures to protect species at risk, like the monarch butterfly.

Trilateral trade

With protesters gathered in downtown Ottawa to denounce the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership, would the official communiqués enthusiastically embrace this trade agreement?

Not really. There's one line about the Pacific Rim deal the three North American partners must ratify by early 2018: "We will continue to work diligently to complete our respective domestic processes."

(The TPP has been sent to Mexico's Senate for ratification. The U.S. Congress may vote during this fall's "lame duck" session at the tail end of the Obama administration's tenure. Canada is still consulting on what to do.)

In the meantime, the Amigos continue to adjust their existing North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to changing economic circumstances. They've revised the rules of origin for pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, rubber, metals, industrial/electrical machinery, precision instruments and natural gas.

Briefing reporters on the plane to Ottawa, White House spokesman Josh Earnest reacted to Donald Trump's call to repeal NAFTA by promoting the TPP, a deal once hoped to be Obama's trade legacy: "We've already succeeded in renegotiating NAFTA. That's exactly what the TPP does," he said.

Border issues

The North American trusted traveller program continues to roll out. By the end of 2016, Canadian and American citizens who are part of the NEXUS system, which streamlines border crossing for low-risk, frequent travellers, will be eligible to apply for a Viajero Confiable program to expedite screening at Mexican airports.

In return, Mexicans will be able to apply for NEXUS processing.

Other work to improve technology and speed up border crossings continues, including data sharing.

In 2016, Canadian personnel will be embedded alongside Mexican counterparts in a U.S. customs centre to fight the illegal smuggling of contraband goods with better pre-screening for high-risk cargo shipments.

Economic competitiveness

The American release mentions steel first and greater co-operation to manage excess steel capacity through "robust trade enforcement." (China is not mentioned by name, but its ramped-up production is blamed for distorting world markets.)

Canada's release mentions steel at the bottom.

The three countries will embrace "cluster asset mapping," to identify regions with interconnected companies, suppliers and institutions and help attract new industries. They will also collaborate on cybersecurity and convene an industry summit in Washington to share expertise.

Perhaps not surprisingly, given the priority Canada's Liberal government puts on advancing gender equity, there's a trilateral memorandum of understanding to promote women's entrepreneurship. Canadian and American businesswomen are planning a trade mission to Mexico over the next year.

Human rights

In the aftermath of the Orlando nightclub shootings that targeted that city's gay community, the three leaders are calling on the international community "to ensure full respect for the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and intersex persons."

The Amigos support the establishment of an independent expert at the United Nations to work on preventing violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In particular, Canada and the U.S. commit their embassies to collaborate on efforts to promote decriminalization of same-sex conduct and combat violence and discrimination around the world.

During Trudeau's visit to Washington earlier this year, the two leaders' spouses attended an event in support of girls education. This global development issue pops up among the Three Amigos priorities as well.

There's also a reference to the "alarmingly high levels of violence" indigenous women and girls in all three countries endure. A continental working group will convene in Washington this fall to exchange knowledge and help victims.


Peacekeeping has returned to the continental security agenda. Canada will help train Mexican forces as peacekeepers, while defence planners are exploring options for a peacekeeping mission in Colombia. 

There are no specific announcements on drug policy co-ordination, despite Canada's commitment to legalize marijuana, starting with legislation coming in 2017. Instead there's a general commitment to collaborate and share information on the illegal drug trade.

There's also collaboration on illicit financial transactions and human trafficking. A 90-day pilot program will launch later this year to target foreign fugitives with known ties to North America.

The trio also finds common cause against poverty and corruption among their Central American neighbours. Specific funding is targeted at the root causes of irregular migration: limited economic opportunities, poor education and health services and gang violence.

The joint statement also condemns the political crisis underway in Venezuela, applauds Colombia's recent progress towards a peace agreement with FARC and regrets the absence of a democratically elected president in Haiti.