Mexico urges U.S. to invest in region to stem migration

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard speaks as he meets with members of the Venezuelan government and the opposition, to seek consensus on how to overcome the economic and social crises gripping Venezuela, in Mexico City, Mexico August 13, 2021. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

MEXICO CITY, Sept 7 (Reuters) – Mexico’s government on Tuesday pressed the United States to commit funds to the economic development of Central America and southern Mexico to help contain a sharp increase in immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border this year.

Speaking ahead of economic talks between U.S. and Mexican officials on Thursday that will also broach migration, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador told a news conference the two countries needed to take a holistic approach to immigration.

Lopez Obrador had vowed to send a letter to U.S. President Joe Biden before the Washington meeting, and he said it would make the case for granting temporary work visas for Central Americans to help supply demand for labor in North America.

“Now, with President Biden, we believe it’s time, with actions, to begin to develop the South, the countries of Central America,” Lopez Obrador said, adding that investment pledges made by the previous U.S. government had not been kept.

Lopez Obrador praised Biden for ramping up stimulus spending to increase growth following the coronavirus pandemic.

“But the bulk of that money ends up the markets of Asia, because the home appliances, the goods, have to be bought in Asia when we could be making in North America all the home appliances we use,” he added.

Separately, Economy Minister Tatiana Clouthier, who will be in Washington for the talks, would be pushing technology, logistics and semiconductor firms to relocate their supply chains and investments to Mexico, her ministry said.

Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, who will also be at the talks, said Mexico hoped it would get a “positive response” from Washington to begin investments soon in Central America.

Border infrastructure would also be on the agenda for the talks, he said.

“We need to close the imbalance in infrastructure between one country and the other in the border region,” Ebrard said.

Reporting by Dave Graham
Additional reporting by Sharay Angulo; Editing by Aurora Ellis

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