Mexico Open to Working With U.S., Canada on Energy Law Concerns

Mexican Economy Minister Tatiana Clouthier said her government is willing to work with the U.S. and Canada on their concerns over Mexico’s efforts to bolster its state electricity company at the expense of private firms.

In an interview with Bloomberg News, Clouthier said Mexico will maintain “an open dialogue” with its North American allies about the new law, which would favor the state utility over private renewables companies. The law has been suspended by local courts.

“Mexico is open to continue the discussion with its partners under USMCA with respect to any concern on the modification of Mexico’s domestic laws and regulations on the electricity and energy sector,” Clouthier said in an email interview, referring to the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement

President Joe Biden’s trade chief criticized Mexico’s nationalist energy policies at a joint two-day meeting this week. Both Katherine Tai and her Canadian counterpart, Mary Ng, have raised concerns it would harm U.S. and Canadian investments in Mexico’s energy market.

Clouthier added that the government will also work “with investors, both national and foreign, to help us create long-lasting relations and win-win cooperation schemes for the benefit of development in Mexico.”

The economy minister defended the government’s energy policy, saying Mexico’s amendments to the electricity law are “part of its sovereign right to regulate.” She added the government will follow any decision made by Mexico courts, where the legislation is currently being challenged by companies and investors.

The law is part of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s longstanding drive to return state energy giants the CFE and Petroleos Mexicanos to their former dominance, and undo privatizations enacted by his predecessor. This month, a federal judge suspended parts of another recent law that would expand government control over the fuel market.

Clouthier also said she would like to see the auto industry grow its manufacturing capacity in the country. When she first took office, the economy chief vowed to convince Ford Motor Co. to relocate a plant closing in Brazil to Mexico.

“We want to make sure that Ford’s presence in Mexico goes beyond the states of Sonora, Chihuahua, State of Mexico, Guanajuato and Mexico City,” explained the minister. “I want to make sure that business finds Mexico as the best place to invest, and that they know that they can establish operations in Mexico to grow their businesses.”

Clouthier told reporters earlier this week that Mexico is working to create supply chains for the auto industry of the future and if things go well in the coming months may receive an investment by a company for the production of batteries for electric vehicles, declining to name the company.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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