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Obama Heads to Summit as North America Braces for Swine Flu

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  • Obama Heads to Summit as North America Braces for Swine Flu

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    Obama Heads to Summit as North America Braces for Swine Flu
    2009-08-09 04:00:01.0 GMT

    By Roger Runningen and Nicholas Johnston

    Aug. 9 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama leaves today
    for a summit with his counterparts from Mexico and Canada as all
    three nations brace for a rebound of the deadly H1N1 swine flu,
    which may threaten cross-border commerce.

    The two-day meeting in Guadalajara among Obama, Mexican
    President Felipe Calderon and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen
    Harper is to include talks on easing trade friction, dealing
    with the recession, battling drug crime and paving the way for
    climate talks later this year. A pressing topic is the return of
    the pandemic flu, which emerged in Mexico earlier this year.

    ?Everybody recognizes that H1N1 is going to be a challenge
    for all of us and there are going to be people getting sick in
    the fall and die,?
    John Brennan, Obama?s deputy national
    security adviser, said.

    Officials are concerned that a widespread outbreak of the
    H1N1 virus as the regular flu season gets under way in the
    Northern Hemisphere?s fall may disrupt airline schedules and
    slow cross-border imports and exports.

    All three countries still are being battered by the
    recession, and economics defines the relationship among them.
    Canada and Mexico are the U.S.?s first- and third-largest
    trading partners, generating more than $950 billion of imports
    and exports last year. Canada and Mexico account for 28 percent
    of all U.S. trade.

    Common Strategy

    At the North American Leaders Summit, Obama, 48, Calderon,
    46, and Harper, 50, will focus on joint strategies for
    coordinating medical information, stockpiling vaccines and
    reviewing distribution plans to ?minimize the impact and
    severity,? Brennan said at an Aug. 6 White House briefing.

    For the rest of the agenda, ?the real test is whether they
    can get past the photo opportunity,? said Robert Pastor, co-
    director of the Center for North American Studies at American
    University in Washington.

    The administration is downplaying expectations.

    ?We don?t expect to announce anything big coming out of
    this weekend,? White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said at a
    briefing on Aug. 7.

    One trade irritant on the table will be access to U.S.
    highways for Mexican truckers. Congress in March ended a pilot
    program that allowed Mexican trucks to deliver to the U.S.
    everything from fresh fruit to auto parts. Lawmakers, with
    pressure from unions and American firms, cited complaints that
    Mexican trucks posed a safety hazard.


    Mexico said the ban violated the North American Free Trade
    Agreement and imposed $2.4 billion in retaliatory duties on U.S.
    goods including cosmetics, fruit, meat and soft drinks.

    About 150 companies and trade groups, including Caterpillar
    Inc., Smithfield Foods Inc., PepsiCo Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores
    Inc., say the tariffs are hurting sales, profit and jobs. The
    group wrote to Obama on Aug. 6 demanding a resolution.

    ?It?s a stone in the shoe,? Arturo Sarukhan, Mexico?s
    ambassador to the U.S., said in Washington. Calderon hopes for a
    resolution ?by the end of the year,? he said.

    Mike Froman, deputy national security adviser for
    international economics and former Citigroup Inc. executive,
    said the administration is ?working with Congress to address
    safety concerns? in ways that are consistent with the trade

    Another source of friction among the countries is a section
    of the $787 billion economic stimulus program that requires the
    use of American-made parts or equipment in such projects as
    highways and bridges.


    ?The Buy America restrictions are one example of growing
    protectionism in the U.S.? that comes during a recession, Jay
    Myers, chief executive of the Canadian Manufacturers and
    Exporters trade group, said in an Aug. 6 interview from Ottawa.

    The provision has prevented companies like Ipex Inc., a
    Toronto-based pipe manufacturer, or Hayward Gordon Ltd., a pump
    and engineered-systems manufacturer in Halton Hills, Ontario,
    from taking part in infrastructure projects generated by the

    Froman said Obama would work with Canada and other trading
    partners ?to see if we can mitigate the impact on trade.?

    On battling drug cartels, Obama is offering political
    support to Calderon who, in the face of growing criticism, has
    used Army troops to patrol city streets to try and stem
    violence. Almost 10,000 people have been killed in drug-related
    murders in Mexico over the last 18 months.

    The U.S. supports Mexico?s war on drugs through the Merida
    Initiative, a three-year, $1.1 billion package of aid to Mexico
    that includes helicopters, intelligence sharing, and police

    Accelerated Aid

    Calderon will urge Obama to ?try to streamline the
    pipeline? and quicken the arrival of assistance, Sarukhan said.
    The Mexican government ?would like to see it accelerated,? he

    On climate change and energy issues, the three countries
    are seeking a unified agenda that ?can lay the foundation for a
    broader agreement? in such areas as low carbon-growth plans,
    technology cooperation and developing trading in carbon markets,
    Froman said. That will set up their approach to a United Nations
    conference on climate change in December.

    Obama is more popular in Mexico and Canada than President
    George W. Bush, which means ?it?s going to be a lot easier for
    them to cooperate on issues,? said James Blanchard, former U.S.
    ambassador to Canada under Democratic President Bill Clinton

    ?They won?t be worried about being criticized for trying to
    work with him.?

  • #2
    Panic Control in North America

    CBS News is covering the upcoming meetings betwen US, Canada, and Mexico. They lead with H1N1 and asked why it was such a high priority. The answer was that flu season was about to begin and leaders wanted to ensure that panic would not lead to border closures.


    • #3
      Re: Panic Control in North America



      • #4
        Re: Panic Control in North America

        Originally posted by Treyfish View Post
        Sounds like it may have been live TV.
        Wotan (pronounced Voton with the ton rhyming with on) - The German Odin, ruler of the Aesir.

        I am not a doctor, virologist, biologist, etc. I am a layman with a background in the physical sciences.

        Attempting to blog an nascent pandemic: Diary of a Flu Year


        • #5
          Re: Obama Heads to Summit as North America Braces for Swine Flu