Mexico , Canada and United States

Mexico's new economy minister faces test in USMCA dispute

Bnamericas Published: Friday, October 07, 2022

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador appointed Raquel Buenrostro as new economy minister on Friday, a day after Tatiana Clouthier abruptly resigned from the post.

The resignation came amid difficult USMCA dispute negotiations with the US and Canada.

Buenrostro served previously as head of tax authority SAT and one of her top priorities will be handling the US-led dispute, which Mexico is trying to keep from escalation into a full-blown treaty arbitration process.

The dispute is due to a set of Mexican policies that the US and Canada argue hurt private sector companies and unjustly favor state-owned firms. In particular, they point to changes in dispatch priority rules and the energy sector's growing permitting hurdles, as well as controversial natural gas pipeline regulations.

According to Kenneth Smith Ramos, Mexico’s former head of USMCA negotiations, Clouthier’s resignation has caused concerns in the energy sector, news outlet Energía a Debate reported him as saying. 

The exit of Clouthier was most likely unrelated to the USMCA dispute, energy consultant Rosanety Barrios told BNamericas.

The discussions between the three countries have been extended beyond their original period. Even though the US and Canada could have asked for an expert panel to be formed after October 3, both sides appear to prefer a negotiated outcome.

The International Chamber of Commerce México (ICC México) said in a release that Buenrostro has a record of “listening and taking into account the proposals of the business community, seeking the best productivity conditions for Mexico."

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