US, Mexico cooperate on semiconductors, electric vehicles

MEXICO CITY — Mexico and the US plan to leverage the Biden administration’s massive investment in semiconductor manufacturing to accelerate their supply chain integration and work together to expand electric vehicle production through the state-owned lithium industry. of Mexico, officials from the two countries said on Monday.

Both efforts seek to take advantage of Asia in the semiconductors and batteries needed for electric vehicles, while boosting production in North America.

They were one of the main topics discussed inside and on the sidelines of the High Level Economic Dialogue between the two countries in the Mexican capital.

“Key elements of the semiconductor supply chain are already well established in Mexico, with US-based companies such as Intel and Skyworks conducting research and development, design, assembly and manufacturing. testing in parts of Mexico,” said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Blinken and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimundo spoke earlier in the day with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador about opportunities for Mexico to take advantage of a recently passed U.S. law that would provide $28 billion in incentives. incentives for semiconductor manufacturing, $10 billion for new chip manufacturing, and $11 billion for research and development.

For his part, López Obrador explained his plan to make the northern border state of Sonora a leader in lithium, electric vehicle and solar energy production, said Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard. Lithium is the main component of batteries for electric vehicles. The president said last month he discussed the idea with US President Joe Biden.

Blinken said another part of the new US law is intended to encourage the shift to electric vehicles and the battery production they need in North America.

This is a big opening for the Mexican economy, Ebrard said.

“This means more jobs for Mexico, more integration,” Ebrard said. “We think that Mexico can grow twice as much as what is proposed with Mexico today and this means we can reduce poverty faster in our country and Mexico’s infrastructure can grow. grow faster”.

The dialogue, which was kicked off by then Vice President Biden in 2013, resumed last year in Washington after a halt under the Trump administration.

The global shortage of semiconductors has hit the production of cars, home appliances and other goods, fueling high inflation. Biden appeared at the future site of a giant Intel factory in Ohio on Friday.

Last month, López Obrador said the government had set up a state-run lithium company that would be in charge of the exploration and extraction of the mineral. Mexico nationalized lithium production in May.

When asked about the ongoing trade disputes between the US and Mexico in the energy sector, officials from both countries downplayed the disputes and stressed that there is a separate process for resolving disagreements. that under their trade agreement and that was not an item on the agenda for these meetings.

Ahead of the talks, Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs Brian Nichols, who was also in attendance, said one of the priorities of the talks was to promote development in southern Mexico and Central America.

Encounters by U.S. border agents with migrants from the Northern Triangle countries — El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala — have decreased this year compared with last year, despite encounters overall in borders have increased this year, according to US Customs and Border Protection data. The number of Mexican migrants encountered was also higher than in most of the past year.

Mexico has recently avoided direct clashes with migrants moving through its territory, instead regularly providing them with temporary documents to ease pressure at its southern border. .

López Obrador has been criticized by several international and domestic organizations for transferring the recently formed National Guard to the Ministry of Defense. In many ways, the military ran the force – and filled its ranks – but it was created as a civilian force. López Obrador criticized the United Nations and the Organization of American States for expressing concern about the move.

Mexico continues to grapple with high rates of violence. On Friday, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced people said violence related to Mexico’s drug cartels was the main driver of internal displacement. She called on the government to create an official registry for displaced people, but said data collected from NGOs showed there were around 400,000 people.

The talks come just days before Mexico celebrates its independence, to which López Obrador has invited such figures as the daughter of revolutionary leader Ernesto “Che” Guevara and the father of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

At López Obrador’s daily press conference on Monday, the president said he plans to submit to the United Nations a proposal to end Russia’s war in Ukraine. López Obrador, who has not joined other countries by imposing economic sanctions on Russia, has proposed the creation of a conciliation commission led by Pope Francis, the secretary general of the United Nations and the prime minister. India, established to open negotiations between the presidents of Russia and Ukraine.

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