By THE PULSE NEWS MEXICO STAFF
In what constituted his third visit in the last five months, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate Change John Kerry flew to Mexico on Thursday, March 31, to meet with President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) on the issue of his proposed electricity reform bill.
Kerry, who, along with a delegation of nine U.S. electricity sector businessmen, met with AMLO at the National Palace, was in Mexico to reiterate his government’s concerns that the new bill will violate the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), as well as existing contracts with U.S.-based companies.
He also expressed concerns as to the bill’s potential impact on climate change.
In his daily morning press conference just prior to the meeting, López Obrador said that he was open to discussing the controversial bill, which would prioritize state-run carbon-based energy sources over private-sector clean alternatives.
“I am not taking an intransigent position (on the issue),” the president said.
“Mexico wants to have good relations with the United States government and with entrepreneurs from the United States.”
Notwithstanding, López Obrador said he would “explain” to Kerry why his government was pushing legislation to strengthen the country’s state-run energy companies, pointing to the conflict in Ukraine, which he said showed the benefit of having control over national energy resources.
“The state cannot fail to comply with its social responsibility,” AMLO said.
After the five-hour meeting with AMLO, Kerry told Reforma newspaper that while the United States “still has concerns,” López Obrador promised to modify the energy reform bill so as not to hinder investment and to promote clean energy.
Also, he said, the United States will form a special team, headed by U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Ken Salazar, to ensure that the new law complies with USMCA rules.
“The president was very clear that he wants these companies to be able to invest. He wants to move forward, and he is eager to remove any obstacles they may have faced, and to encourage investment,” Kerry said.
But Kerry said that AMLO’s constitutional electrical reform, as it is currently worded, violates the USMCA, and warned that if that wording is not modified, “there will be a clear response” from Washington in the commercial field.
“(AMLO) brought together several members of his cabinet and we had a very good discussion in which we agreed that we have to work together in the transformation process towards clean energy. The (president) recommitted to the vision of Mexico, the United States and Canada, in a cooperative effort to face the climate crisis,” Kerry said.
“We agreed on a set of principles that we hope will be incorporated into the energy reform.”
Kerry said that Salazar and his team will continue to work with the Mexican government to make sure that the energy reform “empowers this transformation and does not restrict it.”
“We still have some concerns and hopefully they can be taken care of in the next few days,” Kerry said.