By KELIN DILLON
Following a joint energy trade consultation held in Washington, D.C., between Wednesday, Nov. 30, and Thursday, Dec. 1, Mexican Secretary of the Economy Raquel Buenrostro and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai announced a number of potential proposals to address Mexico and the United States’ ongoing dispute on Mexican energy policy – including potential “tri-national working groups” – that are set to be introduced at the highly anticipated North American Leaders Summit (NALS) in January 2023.
Mexico’s energy policy has been fraught with controversy ever since President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) revealed his intentions to nationalize Mexico’s energy sector at the expense of foreign and private investment – something which the United States and energy experts have repeatedly warned may violate provisions of the international United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
According to a joint statement released by Tai and Buenrostro after Thursday’s meeting, the proposed “tri-national working groups” between Mexico, Canada and the United States will meet throughout December and the beginning of January to discuss different aspects of energy policy.
“If this plan is satisfactorily fulfilled, the progress could be presented at the North American Leaders Summit to be held in our country on Jan. 9 and 10, 2023,” read Tai and Buenrostro’s statement.
The duo reportedly reviewed a wide scope of factors surrounding energy policy, including regional supply chains, labor issues, biotechnology and environmental matters.
The statement went on to announce that Mexican Secretary of Energy Rocío Nahle would take a “leading role” in Mexico’s energy consultations with the United States moving forward.
Notably, Nahle said that she believes that Chapter 8 of the USMCA grants López Obrador the power to nationalize Mexico’s energy sector and give national energy companies undue preference over their private competitors – something which its USMCA trade partners, Canada and the United States, have vehemently disagreed with and prompted the request to begin the trio’s energy consultations in July 2022.
After Thursday’s meeting, Buenrostro reportedly invited Tai to continue the energy consultation in Mexico City in the days to come, where Mexico purportedly hopes to solve the trade partners’ energy issues while still in the consultation phase, both before reaching arbitration and ahead of January’s North American Leaders Summit.