Canada, Mexico to announce vaccine donations as part of deal with US

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The heads of Canada and Mexico on Thursday will pledge to share millions of vaccine doses with other countries in need at the first gathering of North American leaders at the White House since 2016.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador will meet with President Biden for the North American Leaders Summit, where the three will discuss economic initiatives, migration, climate change and the pandemic.

The leaders will announce that Canada and Mexico will send millions of vaccines to other nations in the region as part of an agreement to pay forward doses after the U.S. first shared millions of the shots with its neighbors, a senior Biden administration official told reporters on a call previewing the summit.

The exact number of doses, recipients and timing of the donations will be determined by health experts and announced at a later date, the official said, but it will be part of a broader effort to expand vaccine production capabilities in the region. 

“We’re going to have public health experts determine the timing and the amount and the types of doses so that we’re working — North America — not just for our own well-being and competitiveness, but as a way to project in supporting our regional partners to come back from the pandemic stronger than before,” a senior administration official said.

The leaders will also more broadly discuss efforts to improve vaccine distribution in the Caribbean and Latin America, the official added.

Biden will meet Thursday with Trudeau and López Obrador separately for one-on-one meetings, as well as a trilateral meeting involving all three leaders, a senior administration official said. The U.S. this month reopened its borders to vaccinated travelers from Canada and Mexico.

The vaccine announcements will be one of several expected to come out of Thursday’s summit.

The leaders are expected to announce the formation of a North America supply chain working group, a senior administration official said, at a time when bottlenecks have led to concerns about inflation and whether there will be enough goods for consumers heading into the holiday season.

On climate, the nations will affirm a pledge to reduce methane and black carbon emissions by 60-75 percent by the year 2030 and discuss commitments to accelerate the development of renewable energy sources. 

On migration, the focus will be on a regional approach to displaced individuals coming from Central America, a senior administration official said, and less so about internal migration issues in North America.

“We know this is a region that’s impacted and will continue to be impacted by climate change. We expect to see continuations of flows, so how can we collectively look at the problems at hand and come up with humane and practical ways of managing migration throughout the hemisphere,” the official said.

That means controversial topics like the flow of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border and the fate of the “Remain in Mexico” policy are unlikely to be major points of discussion, one official said.

The Biden administration has asked federal courts to unwind a decision forcing them to re-implement the Trump administration’s Remain in Mexico policy, which forces migrants to wait south of the border while their asylum claims are adjudicated.

Tags Canada COVID-19 vaccine Joe Biden Justin Trudeau Mexico Vaccine diplomacy Vaccines

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