Mexico Energy: Pena Nieto’s Reform Proposals: One week On
British Embassy Mexico City
One week on, Peña Nieto’s energy reform proposals are in decent shape. A coordinated and disciplined communications campaign has focused on the benefits for Mexican families. Business reactions have been positive, although there are many questions about how the reforms will be implemented.
President Enrique Peña Nieto’s historic proposals for energy reform have stood up well to a week of intense debate and reaction since he presented them on 12 August Senior members of the Government have fanned out across the media to explain the proposals, backed by a huge information campaign in print, online and on the airwaves. The Political Commission of the President’s party, the PRI, gave its strong backing to the proposals. Polling indicates that nearly three-quarters of Mexicans agree that the state oil company Pemex needs to be reformed.
The parliamentary left, the PRD, presented their alternative proposals for reform on 19 August, focused on modernisation of Pemex and electricity monopoly CFE without constitutional change or an opening to private investment.
The coordination and discipline of the Government’s messaging has been impressive. It has focused on the headline benefits for ordinary Mexican families of cheaper energy and more jobs. They have deliberately not been drawn into too much detail on implementation of the reforms, saying that this will be an issue for secondary legislation.
The Government has also taken action to explain the proposals to international audiences. Foreign Minister Meade (a former Energy Minister) briefed the Diplomatic Corps on 15 August on the historical background, principles and objectives of the proposed reform.
UK energy companies already in Mexico have responded positively. Inevitably, there are questions about how the reforms will be taken forward – for example, about the content of the secondary legislation and the finer details of the proposed “profit-sharing contracts”. But the Government seem to have done enough – and the opportunities are of a scale – to maintain their interest in future investment.
Media coverage has been intensive, including internationally. In the Mexican press, initial reactions were varied: with some praising the Government’s bold approach while others criticised a lack of ambition. More considered reactions have weighed the potential impacts of the Government’s proposals (moderate) against those put forward by the major opposition parties, the PAN (highly liberalised) and PRD (non-liberalised, with a focus on fighting the trade union’s corruption and restructuring Pemex to make it autonomous from political power). Many outlets have recognised that a failed or short-sighted reform could spell the end to Mexico’s aspirations for economic growth (ie. adding up to 3% to current levels of 2.5-3%).
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