Washington Post: AMLO Gives US No Choice but to Push Back

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Photo: presidencia.gob.mx


In a scathing opinion column published by its editorial board, the Washington Post on Monday, Aug. 1, said that while it would be best for the United States and Mexico to resolve their differences within an “atmosphere of calm and mutual cooperation, with no gratuitous irritations to this vital bilateral relationship,” President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) pigheaded refusal to comply with the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) has left Washington with no alternative but to “push back.”

“The United States and Mexico have plenty of tough issues to deal with, from the lingering coronavirus pandemic to inflation to the continuing surge of migrants through their mutual border,” the article said.

Unfortunately, the article said, as long as López Obrador remains at the helm of  Mexico’s presidency, irritations that make resolvoing those key issues difficult or impossible “are all too likely.”

“A quirky populist whose worldview centers on restoring what he misperceives as the lost glory of Mexico’s nationalized oil industry, López Obrador inherited a modified version of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that his predecessor had negotiated with U.S. President Donald Trump,” which took effect on July 1, 2020, it said.

“And yet López Obrador has continued to press for greater control over Mexico’s energy markets, to the point where his policies now arguably violate the terms of the revised trade pact, known as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).”

Consequently, the Washington Post said, the Joe Biden administration “has no choice but to push back.”

The article went on to explain that at issue is “a new Mexican law that awards a state-run producer, which relies heavily on coal, a greater share of the electric power market, to the detriment of private U.S.-owned firms, which include wind and solar companies.”

“In addition, a 2019 regulation awarded (Petróleos Mexicanos, or) Pemex, the state-owned oil company, extra time to reduce the amount of sulfur in automotive diesel fuel, an advantage over U.S.-supplied diesel,” it noted.

“The Biden administration also accuses Mexico of discriminating against U.S. firms in licensing and permitting. This is the rare complaint that blends environmental issues — López Obrador’s tilting of the playing field in favor of Mexican fossil fuels — with traditional free-trade concerns. A bipartisan coalition in Congress opposes López Obrador’s policy, as do industry groups from the American Petroleum Institute and the American Clean Power Association. The government of Canada has also supported the U.S. position.”

With no signs of AMLO budging on his illicit favortism for Mexican state-run energy sources, “as called for under the USMCA,” the Washington Post said that the United States has resorted to “consultations” with Mexico over the issue.

But if those consultations do not “bear fruit within 75 days, the parties will move to a formal dispute resolution, with punitive tariffs awaiting Mexico if it is found to be at fault,” is said.

The article concluded by noting that, for now, “López Obrador is enjoying a nationalistic sugar rush, mocking the United States’ request for consultations,” an action the Washington Post deamed “especially inappropriate — and ominous — in the context of other recent outbursts in which the Mexican president has labeled domestic critics ‘traitors’.”

“By telling  López Obrador, in effect, ‘we’ll see you in court,'” the article said, “the United States is standing up for its own interests and, in a real sense, the best interests of Mexico’s people, too.”

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