Protecting Mexico’s Energy Reforms

8/14/2017 RealClear World

By Duncan Wood

When President Salinas Gortari signed the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement for Mexico in 1992, he provided certainty and stability for investors hoping to benefit from Mexico’s emerging manufacturing base. The trade deal locked in the benefits of domestic economic reforms and liberalization introduced in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The steady flow of foreign investment that followed turned Mexico into a manufacturing powerhouse.

When negotiators from Mexico, Canada, and the United States start talks on Wednesday to renegotiate aspects of the 23-year-old agreement, they too hope to lock in recently won gains in Mexico that are of enormous interest to all parties. One priority must be to defend hard-won reforms in Mexico’s energy sector — reforms meant to change a sector that was closed and monopolistic for 75 years. Since U.S. President Donald Trump’s inauguration in January, a broad-based movement has emerged that aims to defend two decades of free trade in the region and to insist on the urgency of “doing no harm” during renegotiation. NAFTA’s defenders have managed to influence a change in language: Where commentators once spoke of renegotiating a pact Trump characterized as the worst trade deal signed by the United States, the negotiations are now widely framed as an opportunity to modernize a venerable trade deal so that it more accurately reflects the needs and priorities of the 21st century economy.

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Canada PM Trudeau eyeing Mexico trip in October amid NAFTA talks

08/15/2017 Reuters

trudeauOTTAWA (Reuters) – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is considering a trip to Mexico in October to meet with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, his office said on Tuesday.

The visit would be Trudeau’s first trip to Mexico since taking office in 2015 and come in the midst of trilateral talks to update the North American Free Trade Agreement. Pena Nieto visited Trudeau in Ottawa in June 2016.

Negotiations to modernize NAFTA kick of in Washington on Wednesday. U.S. President Donald Trump has targeted both Mexico and Canada for taking unfair advantages in the trading relationship. Ottawa has suggested it could walk away from talks if the United States pushed to remove a key dispute-settlement mechanism in the trade deal.

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RPT-Tech companies ramp up NAFTA lobbying on eve of trade talks

08/16/2017 Reuters

NAFTA_logoWASHINGTON, Aug 15 (Reuters) – Technology companies, such as Microsoft and Cisco Systems have ramped up lobbying ahead of talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, looking to avoid any future restrictions on cloud storage and to promote an international pact to eliminate technology goods tariffs.

U.S., Mexican and Canadian negotiators are due to start talks on the 23-year old trade pact on Wednesday. Farming and transportation groups have traditionally dominated lobbying on NAFTA, but technology lobbyists are helping lead the recent surge in efforts to influence Washington, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics.

Tech companies and trade organizations disclosed they had 48 arrangements with lobby groups that discussed NAFTA with administration officials or lawmakers in the second quarter, up from 17 groups in the first quarter and one group at the end of 2016, according to the data.

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NAFTA negotiators aim for ‘ambitious’ first round of talks: U.S. official

08/15/2017 Reuters

NAFTA_logoWASHINGTON (Reuters) – Negotiators from Canada, Mexico and the United States are aiming for an ambitious first round of trade talks, a senior U.S. official said on Tuesday, as the countries try to fast-track a deal to modernize the pact by early next year.

The United States Trade Representative official, speaking to reporters on a conference call, said all sides would all submit a substantial number of proposals during the first week of the talks aimed at renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in Washington. The talks start on Wednesday.

“We are actually going to be quite ambitious in this first round,” the USTR official said, without elaborating on specifics.

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Learning From The Experience Of NAFTA Labor And Environmental Governance

8/11/2017 Forbes

forbesAs negotiators from the United States, Mexico, and Canada prepare to begin talks on a renegotiated NAFTA agreement, this is an opportune moment to think about how to strengthen trilateral oversight in the important areas of labor and environmental policy. The Trump Administration published its negotiating objectives in July, and they included the aim to strengthen both labor and environmental oversight within NAFTA. Clear lessons can be drawn from the NAFTA experience about what worked and what did not, and how civil society participated and evolved.

NAFTA included two side agreements, one on the environment and one on labor. The purpose was to pressure all three member states to uphold their own laws in these areas. Mexico’s inclusion in NAFTA was the original rationale, but the requirements applied to all three countries. Non-compliance was not to be tolerated.

What happened next is very important. The side agreements created routes for civil society to complain about non-compliance, and therefore contribute to governance. Although many see the side agreements as worthless, they did have a significant impact on Mexican civil society, and to an extent, governance in Mexico too. The way this happened is less obvious and less understood than trade or investment-led change, but it is worth our attention. In fact, the impact of the labor and environmental side agreements differed, because their institutions and procedures differed – and therein lies an important lesson. Let’s look at both in turn.

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Mexico’s Banorte president optimistic about NAFTA renegotiation

08/10/2017 Reuters

banorte(Reuters) – Mexico’s Grupo Financiero Banorte (GFNORTEO.MX) hopes the terms of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) will be rewritten to benefit the country and its banking sector, its president Carlos Hank Gonzalez said on Thursday.

The group, which owns the largest financial institution owned by Mexican investors, reported a 23-percent increase in profits for the second quarter, helped by positive performance in its key sectors of consumer and corporate credit.

Canada, the United States and Mexico will start renegotiating the terms of the trade agreement that has shaped business between the three countries for more than two decades after President Donald Trump threatened to tear up the agreement if it did not benefit businesses and employment in the United States.

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NEW PUBLICATION: “Following the Money Trail” to Combat Terrorism, Crime, and Corruption in the Americas

Over the past decade, there has been a greater appreciation of how “following the money trail” directly contributes to the fight against terrorism, crime, and corruption around the world. Money serves as the oxygen for any activity, licit or illicit; it is the critical enabler for any organization, from international crime syndicates like the Mexican cartels to terrorist groups like the FARC, ISIS, and Hezbollah. Financial intelligence has helped governments to better understand, detect, disrupt, and counter criminal and terrorist networks and expose political corruption.

Since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the United States and its Latin American partners have strengthened their ability to combat money laundering and terrorist financing and consciously incorporated the financial instrument of national power into their national security strategies. “Following the money trail,” counterterrorism, and Drug Kingpin sanctions and asset forfeiture have become particularly important to attack narco-insurgencies, dismantle transnational criminal organizations (TCOs), and address political corruption scandals that have reached the highest levels of governments across Latin America.

This report focuses on the threats from money laundering and terrorist financing, distinguishing the two, and explains government efforts to counter illicit financing. It describes the ways illicit actors raise, move, store, and use money to pursue their dangerous agendas. Specific cases examining the FARC in Colombia, the 2015 fall of the Guatemalan government, and Brazil’s “Operation Car Wash” corruption scandal illustrate how governments use financial intelligence to pursue terrorists, criminals, corrupt politicians, and their financiers in Latin America. Finally, the report emphasizes the need to design, implement, and constantly update national and international strategies to combat the financing of emerging threats like terrorism, crime, and corruption and to safeguard our financial systems.

Download the report