MEXICO CITY/WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Trade ministers from the United States and Canada expressed concern on Wednesday about Mexico's energy policies, as they met with their Mexican counterpart to mark the one-year anniversary of a regional trade pact.
U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai told reporters during a joint news conference that the United States is closely following Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's approach to the oil and power sectors, and seemed to suggest underlying differences.
"With respect to the energy policies that we see being discussed and envisioned by the Lopez Obrador administration, we are watching very closely. ... We are raising our concerns. We are here to engage," Tai said, without citing specific issues.
Her answer came in response to a question about the Mexican government's decision late last week to choose state-owned Pemex to run a major shared oil find instead of a private consortium led by U.S. oil company Talos Energy Inc , which made the discovery in 2017.
Canadian Trade Minister Mary Ng reiterated Canada's "ongoing concern with the investment climate in Mexico specifically in energy and mining sectors," but welcomed the expected reopening of the San Rafael mine operated by Canadian miner Americas Gold and Silver Corp.
The mine in northern Mexico will reopen following an extended labor dispute. It primarily produces silver, zinc and lead.
Tai and Ng met in Mexico City with Mexican Economy Minister Tatiana Clouthier at the anniversary of the entry into force of the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA). The pact replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Ng welcomed the historic, all-female makeup of the group, dubbing them the "three amigas," or "three friends" in Spanish.
While in Mexico, the ministers met with entrepreneurs from underrepresented groups, as well as representatives from Mexico’s leading business groups, and visited institutions involved in Mexico’s labor reform, USTR said in a statement.
"With this meeting, Mexico, the United States, and Canada reaffirmed their commitment to North American supply chains and economic competitiveness, which have created significant economic growth and benefits for people and workers in all three countries," USTR said.
USTR said Tai also met with Mexican Agriculture Minister Victor Villalobos, and emphasized the importance of Mexico immediately resuming authorization of biotech products, like genetically modified grains.
The USTR chief also inquired about expanding access for U.S. fresh potatoes in Mexico and protecting an endangered porpoise, as well as the issues of illegal fishing in the Gulf of Mexico and sea turtle bycatch.
(Reporting by Anthony Esposito and Sharay Angulo in Mexico City, Andrea Shalal, Tim Ahmann and David Brunnstrom in Washington, and Steve Scherer in Ottawa; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Peter Cooney)