This will be a shorter newsletter than usual, but with so much going on in the U.S.-Mexico relationship—I wanted to get you all a feel for the past week’s activities and a few links to analysis that I found to be particularly insightful.
Up first are the NAFTA re-negotiations, with the seventh round wrapping up in Mexico City this past Monday. There is still a long ways to go before completing the ~30 chapters, and President Donald Trump’s recently announced plan to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports overshadowed much the talks. Now with Gary Cohn’s departure and Jared Kushner visiting Mexico, it might take a few days for everything to shake out. With that said, barring any sudden moves, we are likely going to enter a holding pattern for much of the year, and depending on the outcome of Mexico’s presidential elections, could find ourselves back on track or completely derailed.
Another big news story is that current U.S. Ambassador Roberta Jacobson announced that she will be stepping down from the position on May 5th of this year. Roberta has done an extraordinary job and has been a steady hand at the tiller and a clear voice in what at times has felt like a storm. While there is a fair amount of speculation about her successor, most of it has been centered on Ed Whitacre. You can count me amongst those who think he’d be a tremendous choice.
Turning to the regional energy space, the top players–U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Mexico’s Energy Secretary Pedro Joaquín Coldwell, Pemex Director Carlos Treviño Medina, and OPIC CEO Ray W. Washburne–were all in Houston this week to attend the annual CERA conference. I had the opportunity to have lunch with them and a group of Texas business leaders on Tuesday and it’s clear that there is a real commitment toward moving the U.S.-Mexico energy relationship forward. It’s also an exciting time in Mexico’s oil and gas sector, with the government’s official announcement of Round 3.3 that will auction off nine unconventional fields. Given White & Case’s new presence in Houston, I am already looking forward to more opportunities to talk Texas, Mexico, and energy in my home state.
Finally, on Wednesday I had the opportunity to congratulate Secretary Enrique De La Madrid on the success of Mexico’s dynamic tourism industry over the last 18 months. If you haven’t yet firmed up your spring break plans, it’s not too late to look to Mexico. Whether it’s the beaches of the Riviera Maya or Oaxaca, the cosmopolitan feel of Mexico City, or the stunning beauty of Barrancas del Cobre, there is so much to explore.