Energy dispute not on agenda for U.S.-Mexico talks next week

A U.S. dispute with Mexico over its southern neighbor’s energy policies is not on the agenda for bilateral talks between senior government officials next week, Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said on Tuesday.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Ebrard are due to meet for the so-called High-Level Economic Dialogue on Sept. 12 in the northern Mexican city of Monterrey amid ongoing discussions between trade officials over the energy dispute.

“The meeting’s objective isn’t to get into the energy issue because there’s already a process underway which the economy ministry is following with the U.S. Trade Representative,” Ebrard told reporters in Mexico City.

“So it wouldn’t make sense to meet with the Secretary of State to talk about something that’s already being discussed by the relevant areas,” the minister added.

Instead, Ebrard said he and Blinken would explore their vision for North America over the “next 20 years.”

Key issues that would be discussed include semiconductors, fifth generation (5G) telecommunications technology and electromobility, Ebrard said, referring to efforts in the continent to make batteries for electric cars.

Washington on July 20 unveiled a demand for dispute settlement talks under the United States-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade deal, arguing Mexican energy policies discriminated against its companies. Canada quickly joined the U.S. complaint.

Under USMCA rules, if the complaint is not resolved within 75 days of consultations, a dispute panel can be requested to review claims. However, an official familiar with the matter said those talks could end up going well beyond 75 days.

Last month Ebrard said Mexico hoped the dispute could be resolved before it reaches an arbitration panel.