Mexico praises US Secretary of Commerce for stance on energy dispute

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MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Tuesday praised U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo for her stance during talks this week, saying she had not indicated she wanted to punish Mexico for an energy dispute between the two countries.

Raimondo was part of a senior US delegation led by Secretary of State Antony Blinken that came to Mexico on Monday for talks with Lopez Obrador and other top Mexican officials, mainly focused on economic relations.

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“I was very touched by the proactive, friendly attitude of the Secretary of Commerce,” Lopez Obrador told a regular news conference. “There was no point in punishing Mexico for its energy policy.”

“The word tariff or sanction was not even used, nothing,” he added, saying there was no reason for such measures and stressing that the two sides wanted to deepen economic ties.

In July, the office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), which belongs to the president’s executive office and is not part of the Department of Commerce, demanded discussions with Mexico over dispute settlement over Lopez Obrador’s energy policy.

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The USTR complaint, which Canada joined, argued that Lopez Obrador’s drive to tighten state control of the energy market was unfair to its companies and likely in violation of the United States-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) agreement. ), a regional trade agreement.

The dispute, which Lopez Obrador has called a matter of national sovereignty, is probably the largest to surface under the USMCA since it took effect in 2020. If not resolved, it could lead to the imposition of trade tariffs against Mexico.

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Lopez Obrador said US officials had shown respect for Mexico’s energy policy and sovereignty during the talks.

(Reporting by Dave Graham; Editing by Cassandra Garrison and Marguerita Choy)