Mexico has been an independent nation for over 200 years now and we Mexicans have seen everything: periods of light and periods of darkness, eras of growth and stages of crises, times of peace and times of violence, moments of optimism and ill-fated intervals. There have also been innumerable grandiose plans, the majority of which end up supplying nearly always the poorest of results. Mistrust in the government is not recent nor is it the product of chance.
Mexico’s energy reform initiative will spark competition with Canada in terms of supplying the United States with oil and natural gas, further fueling the major oil producer’s efforts to diversify export markets, Canada’s minister of natural resources said on Tuesday. “There’s no question that Mexico has embarked on a bold move,” Joe Oliver, Canada’s natural resources minister, told reporters at the annual IHS CERAweek energy conference in Houston.
“They will emerge as another player. We’re focusing on diversifying our market, so that’s perhaps yet another reason to do that. Well, in fact it is,” he said. Last December Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto signed into law a sweeping energy reform that ends the 75-year monopoly state-owned oil company Pemex held on oil and gas production. Nieto is making the case that Mexico is open for business, underscored by energy reform, the hallmark of his 14-month-old government.
Mexico is being touted as a new frontier for Canada’s oil and gas industry as its government opens the energy sector to foreign investment for the first time in more than 70 years. During a three-day visit to Mexico City and Toluca last week, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver spoke enthusiastically about new opportunities for Canadian firms. Mr. Harper was in the country for a North American leaders summit with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and U.S. President Barack Obama.
Once the new rules are in force, foreign and domestic companies should be free to bid on contracts and licences, breaking a decades-old monopoly by Pemex, the state-owned petroleum company. The move is aimed at encouraging investment by firms that will be better equipped to tap Mexico’s substantial oil and gas reserves and turn around 10 years of decline.
Esta semana la Cumbre de Líderes de América del Norte ofrecerá un contraste fascinante entre una relación bilateral muy saludable (México-Estados Unidos), una que es fuerte, pero sometida a tensiones temporales (Canadá-Estados Unidos), y una que es decididamente helada (Canadá-México). Este contraste será especialmente evidente porque el primer ministro Harper y el presidente Peña Nieto habrán terminado una reunión bilateral en la que el tema central será el visado canadiense para ciudadanos mexicanos, tema que además promete complicar el progreso en otros asuntos.
El éxito tiene muchos padres, mientras que el fracaso es huérfano. México es actualmente una historia de éxito con la que el presidente Obama quiere ser asociado, por lo que deberíamos esperar a ver la relación México-Estados Unidos al frente y al centro en Toluca, mientras que Canadá adoptará un perfil más bajo debido a la cuestión de las visas con México y las tensiones del oleoducto Keystone XL con Estados Unidos.
Read our latest publication “Is Geography Destiny? A Primer on North American Relations,” here.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he has no plans to lift the controversial visa restrictions for Mexican travellers and took issue with the trade imbalance between Canada and Mexico, setting a chilly tone ahead of trilateral talks with the United States.
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto publicly raised the question of the travel restrictions, forcing the Prime Minister to make it clear that Ottawa has no plans to change the rules. The President’s comments brought an undercurrent of tension to the fore as the two leaders concluded an afternoon of bilateral talks in Mexico City on Tuesday. They will be joined by U.S. President Barack Obama in Toluca on Wednesday for a trilateral summit that is expected to focus on trade, energy and security issues in North America.
Mexico and Canada are set to push for expanded trade within North America and a bigger global role for their continental trading bloc, even as some U.S. politicians show deep ambivalence over foreign engagements. “The most important thing is to strengthen this project—that at least my government is very dedicated to—of making North America a great center of competitiveness,” Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, said in an interview late Monday. “And that this concept be fully shared by the three governments.”
The three countries’ leaders of will meet here Wednesday to celebrate 20 years of the North American Free Trade Agreement, but trade experts say the U.S. political appetite for more free-trade deals has waned, casting a shadow over efforts to expand the pact and deepen trade ties between North America and Pacific Rim countries.
President Barack Obama is almost certainly about to be pressured once again by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to approve the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline, USA Today reports. Obama is heading to Mexico for the one-day North American Leadership Summit, and the two leaders will meet on the sidelines. But Harper won’t likely hear anything new from his American counterpart. “I think what President Obama will do is explain to (Harper) where we are in the review of the Keystone pipeline and indicate, of course, that we will let our Canadian friends know when we’ve made a decision,” said a senior administration official.
Also on the cross-border front: Obama on Wednesday will sign an executive order mandating the completion of a government portal for small businesses to submit import and export information. The White House says the electronic portal will allow U.S. companies to better compete in the global economy. Read more about the International Trade Data System in the Hill.
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) provokes a deep yawn because at 20 years old it represents an old type of trade agreement. Instead of acting regionally, the three nations of North America have lapsed into dual bi-lateral discussions, i.e. U.S.-Canada, U.S.-Mexico, and Canada-Mexico. The days of exciting trilateral North American summits peaked in 2004 and subsequent gatherings of leaders focused on security and trade. But, even the Security & Prosperity Partnership was deactivated in 2009. With national problems making summit meetings unwelcome, political leaders left it to the private sector to use the NAFTA framework to develop a North American automobile industry that takes advantage of geographic proximity and complementary wage rates to create a highly competitive regional industry. Today, the aerospace industry is in the process of doing the same, and Mexico’s energy reform presents a significant opportunity for increased production in oil and natural gas.
What should be on the agenda for this North American summit to take place on February 19 in President Pena Nieto’s hometown, Toluca?
travels to on Wednesday for a brief but politically fraught visit aimed at forging closer trade ties with America’s two closest neighbors even as his party’s leaders back home have vowed to undercut his efforts. Mr. Obama will meet with the leaders of Mexico and in the rapidly growing city of Toluca, to the west of Mexico City, the capital, at what his advisers consider a critical juncture in his efforts to negotiate a broad Asian-Pacific trade pact that would encompass roughly 40 percent of the global economy across a dozen nations. Both Mexico and Canada have joined the negotiations in the last two years.
The whirlwind visit — he will return to Washington on Wednesday evening without staying the night — will offer Mr. Obama a chance to reassure his counterparts about his capacity to deliver at a time when he faces significant hurdles at home. Senatorof Nevada and Representative of California, the Democratic leaders in Congress, oppose legislation giving him authority similar to that of his predecessors to negotiate trade deals.
Mexico is pushing for a continental approach to energy, with a top official saying all three countries should use their resource wealth to boost the strength of the North American economy. Ahead of this week’s “Three Amigos” summit, Ildefonso Guajardo, Mexico’s secretary of economy, told The Globe and Mail that the Keystone XL pipeline could benefit Canada, the United States as well as his own country.
This week’s talks in Toluca, where North American leaders are scheduled to meet on Wednesday, will provide another opportunity for Prime Minister Stephen Harper to press U.S. President Barack Obama on Canada’s bid for approval of Keystone, which would move oil from Alberta to the Gulf Coast. The issue has become a growing irritant between the two leaders, and senior U.S. officials made it clear in a background briefing last week that Canada should not expect an answer on the project during this week’s meetings.