EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Non-essential land travel restrictions between Mexico and the United States are likely to stay in place past Aug. 21, Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said Monday.

“I would see August 21 as too soon. That would be setting expectations for something we don’t have the elements to say will happen,” Ebrard said at a Tuesday morning news conference in Mexico City broadcast on YouTube. “I don’t see it (happening) as soon as August 21, but we do expect (the United States) to tell us what steps need to be taken so that as soon as possible after August 21 the border economy can be reactivated.”

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Monday made the pitch in a call with Vice President Harris for rolling back non-essential travel restrictions in place between the two countries since March 2020.

Ebrard said concerns remain over recent spikes in COVID-19 infections in both countries.

“The increase in infections in the past month has complicated the situation. Mexico has made a noteworthy advance in vaccinations. […] In some cities, our vaccination rate is higher than theirs (U.S. border cities),” Ebrard said. “We have arguments on the economic and health fronts so they can accelerate (the reopening). I don’t know if they will expand permitted (travel) activities or do it another way. That is up to them.”

Putting the binational agenda in high gear

Ebrard said Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and other top White House officials will be meeting with Lopez Obrador this evening in Mexico City to fine-tune details stemming from the Monday call from Harris on economic, immigration and COVID-19 topics.

Lopez Obrador said he wants to restart “a high-level dialogue” with the United States beginning in September to keep each country informed on developments on common concerns.

“We think we are in a good moment in relation with the United States. Issues important to Mexico are being seen to, issues important to the United States are being seen to. This is how you build a good relationship,” Lopez Obrador said Tuesday morning. “If 80 percent of our trade is with the United States, then there’s a lot of things to discuss.”

One of those issues, Lopez Obrador said, involves discussions on what to do given expectations of an uneven economic recovery in the Western Hemisphere. The United States is restarting its economy by spending on infrastructure, but Central American nations have no such tools, he said.