Mexico president says he resolved Canada firms' concerns in energy dispute

FILE PHOTO: Canada PM Trudeau holds bilateral meeting with President Lopez Obrador

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Thursday he had met with representatives of four Canadian firms and resolved their problems with Mexico's electricity sector, after agreeing to see them at talks with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last week.

The four in question were pension fund La Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec (CDPQ), ATCO Ltd, Northland Power Inc, and Canadian Solar Inc, according to an official familiar with the matter.

A spokeswoman for CDPQ confirmed its presence at the meeting on Wednesday night, without giving further details. The other companies did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

"We saw four Canadian companies, and we solved the four problems without any obstacle," Lopez Obrador told a news conference, saying the concerns related to Mexico's electricity sector. He did not name the firms.

The official said the talks, which included senior Mexican officials, had gone well. The official described them as initial discussions following on from commitments to address the firms' concerns made at the Lopez Obrador-Trudeau meeting last week.

Separately, a Mexican official familiar with the matter said a framework for solving the problems in all of the cases had been agreed on. Those agreements would be implemented in due course, the Mexican official added.

Canadian investors in Mexico that have made use of so-called self-supply permits for electricity, which the Lopez Obrador administration is trying to end, would likely have to make adjustments, the official said, referring to the discussions.

Washington and Ottawa last July started dispute settlement proceedings under a regional trade deal against Mexico's drive to give priority to its state-run energy companies, arguing the policy discriminates against their private firms.

Without naming the companies, Lopez Obrador last week said he had told Trudeau he would meet with Canadian firms with problems that needed resolving.

The Mexican president has sought to deal with U.S. and Canadian companies' problems on a case-by-case basis, but officials and industry sources are very doubtful this will be enough to put an end to the formal dispute proceedings.

As of Dec. 31, 2021, CDPQ had ownership interests in several Mexican companies, including Tenedora de Energia Renovable Sol y Viento Sapi de CV, Organizacion de Proyectos de Infraestructura and Sanfer Farma SAPI de CV.

(Reporting by Dave Graham; Additional reporting by Maiya Keidan in Toronto; Writing by Sarah Morland, Editing by Marguerita Choy and Alistair Bell)