US and Canada pressure Mexico on energy policy at first T-MEC meeting

The contradictions of the Mexican government, which seeks to concentrate the energy monopoly in state companies while it must respect the free trade agreement with its North American partners, are only one “dead end legal”, according to the Secretary of the Economy, Tatiana Clouthier. At a press conference on Tuesday, following the T-MEC Free Trade Commission’s first meeting with its counterparts in the United States and Canada, the official reported that the United States had put on the table the case of a company concerned about the investment climate in this sector.

“They didn’t make a statement in itself of the investment climate as such, but when they presented the issue of electricity and energy reform to us, it was dealt with in a general way,” Clouthier said during the virtual conference. This, despite the fact that on Monday the Canadian delegation issued a statement in which it claimed to have “reiterated its concerns about the investment climate in Mexico, particularly in the mining and energy sectors”.

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“The United States specifically mentioned one company to us and what we commented on was that we needed more information to have our comments taken to the Secretary of Energy and we sat down with them and with all the concerns they had so that they can be resolved one by one and find the approach for them to resolve their doubts,” Clouthier said. “It was, with regard to the energy part, a part that we presented and commented on what is published in the media and which is known to all of us in terms that there is currently a legal impasse, for the kind of call, and that’s what was left on the table.

Regarding the company that filed the complaint, Clouthier said he could not remember the name and added: “It’s not a concern in itself of the American state against the Mexican state. They simply shared the concern of the company and we pointed out that we can gladly approach you now with very specific questions as to whether it would be with the Secretary of Energy directly or with Pemex. [la empresa estatal Petróleos Mexicanos] or both”.

Following the first day of Monday’s meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Canada’s Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade Mary Ng, the United States said in a statement. how Mexico is not respecting the treaty and directly called for “an energy policy that respects American investments and is consistent with efforts to combat climate change”.

In addition to the Mexican president’s attempts to change the law so that state-owned energy companies do not have to compete with private companies, which contravenes T-MEC, the backdrop to the meeting includes two labor disputes in Mexico denounced by the American UU as well. like Mexico’s counterattack: Mexico’s ambassador in Washington has accused the United States of non-compliance on labor matters and against Mexican agricultural workers in its territory.

Tai spoke specifically about seven issues that Mexico has failed to meet, says Ignacio Martínez, coordinator of the Laboratory of Commerce, Economics and Enterprise (LACEN) at UNAM. Environmental obligations, trade in goods made with forced labor, science and risk-based regulatory approaches in agriculture, access to all of Mexico for fresh American potatoes, immediate resumption of authorizations for agricultural biotech products in Mexico , an energy policy that respects U.S. investment and aligns with climate change efforts and increased trade facilitation efforts. “For the Ministry of Economy, it was a historic meeting on gender where dialogue was privileged and issues related to rules of origin in the automotive sector were addressed,” Martínez concluded.

This disparity occurs because Mexico is at a disadvantage, says Lila Abed, a political analyst specializing in Mexico’s relations with the United States. “And when it is disadvantaged and certain provisions and certain chapters of the T-MEC are violated, obviously not they want to put it forward in a press release”, explains the analyst. “This is where we see the pressure from the Biden government and how Mexico is going to have to respond by complying with the new obligations that they have.”

For Abed, the letter sent by Mexico to the United States denouncing the non-respect of T-MEC labor agreements in the agricultural sector, in which Mexican migrants work, must be read as a reaction, rather than an action in support for labor rights. “In the free trade agreement, the three parties and particularly in the Mexico-United States file, Mexico can also file a complaint for violation of labor rights, but it is very unbalanced,” Abed explains on the phone from Washington. “What is happening in Mexico are violations of labor rights according to what the treaty establishes and I think Mexico’s response is more of a counterattack than a real complaint. I don’t know if they would have sent this letter if the United States had not filed these two complaints,” the analyst added.

chinese investment

As ministers gathered on the first day of work on Monday, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador led a ceremony in which he apologized to the Chinese community in the north of the country for a massacre in 1911. “I don’t know whether they did it on purpose or not,” adds Abed, “but I think there’s certainly a concern, not just in Mexico, but in the region and particularly in the United States, of the rapprochement that not only China had, but also countries like Russia and Iran.

As tensions between Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin were rising in April, López Obrador invited the Russian president to Mexico as part of celebrations marking 200 years of Mexican independence. For its part, China invested more in Mexico than in any other Latin American country last year, according to UNAM data.

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