For at least the past 500 years, the need to improve the efficiency of international trade has prompted businesses and governments to challenge the status quo in order to converge and align their interests. Their determination to make trade more efficient has enabled both to accomplish great things. The expansion of the Panama Canal is one example of how such determination can make monumental infrastructure projects come together.
Argentina will hold presidential elections in October, but public dissatisfaction with President Mauricio Macri’s energy policies could hinder his ability to win re-election.
|Season’s greetings from La Jolla! We are pleased to share the latest installment of Energy Panorama for your holiday reading pleasure.
We concluded the year with our annual program in collaboration with the Inter-American Dialogue in Washington, DC and a discussion and panel at the National Press Club. This year’s event focused on the changes in the US Congress and what it may entail for US-Latin American energy issues but particularly the new USMCA trade agreement and the broader US-Mexico bilateral relationship. Below are links to an event summary and highlight video.
As part of our podcast series and a follow-up to our Colombia Energy Roundtable, we spoke with Julia Gutierrez in the Ministry of Mines and Energy for an update and insights on Colombia’s first renewable energy auction.
We will also take advantage of our final edition of the year to look back and share selected reports, podcasts and webinars that we produced this year, as well as insights from our diverse programming across the hemisphere. Consider it a curated compendium of the 2018 IOA Energy & Sustainability Program.
We look forward to seeing you in 2019 and we wish you and yours a joyous and peaceful holiday season!
Washington, DC Event Summary
Washington, DC Event Video
Select Reports from 2018
Select Videos from 2018
Select Opinion & Analysis from 2018
Select Podcasts from 2018
Select Webinars from 2018
|Our featured report, Mexico’s Growing Reliance on US Natural Gas, is the second part of an analysis by our colleague John McNeece, a fellow at the Center for US-Mexican Studies. In Part II he reviews the booming cross border trade in natural gas, contemplates the risks to Mexico presented by its growing reliance on imports from the United States, and how those risks may be mitigated.
The change in government in Mexico was a key theme for our webinar and podcast series and as we convened discussions of the incoming Lopez Obrador administration’s outlook for the energy sector. Below are links to recordings of this month’s webinar and podcast series, as well as highlights from our panel hosted at the Institute of the Americas at the end of the month and a panel at the University of San Diego.
Our analysis of the 2013-14 energy reform measures in Mexico were featured as part of a book published by the Mexico Institute at the Wilson Center. Jeremy Martin wrote one chapter and co-wrote another and participated in the book launch event in Mexico City on November 28. A link to the English and Spanish versions are available below.
The political transition in Mexico is not the only one occurring as Brazil prepares to welcome a new president in January. Our view on what the Bolsonaro government signifies for the nation’s energy sector was published this month in the Inter-American Dialogue’s Energy Advisor.
We were also delighted to convene Clean Energy in the Californias: SB 100, Electrifying Everything & Cross Border Implications, a roundtable aimed at facilitating cross border collaboration. We will continue our support of dialogue between energy stakeholders in California and Baja California as we head into 2019 and possible formalized cooperation between the two state governments.
Additionally, the formal signature of the USMCA trade accord increases focus on how each country’s legislature will respond. Indeed, we look forward to our program on December 11 in Washington, DC and discussion of the new Congress in the US and what it will mean for Latin American relations and particularly energy.
Opinion & Analysis
At an event co-hosted by the Inter-American Dialogue and the Institute of the Americas, panelists discussed how the new Congress will approach key issues affecting energy within the context of Latin America’s evolving role in US trade and foreign policy.
Dec 11 2018 – Washington DC
November’s midterm elections altered the balance of power in Washington, and the new Democratic majority in the House of Representatives, which will mean new chairs on key committees, will play an important role in shaping US energy diplomacy and energy markets in the Western Hemisphere. At an event co-hosted by the Inter-American Dialogue and the Institute of the Americas, panelists discussed how the new Congress will approach key issues affecting energy within the context of Latin America’s evolving role in US trade and foreign policy.
In his keynote remarks, Nelson Cunningham, president of McLarty Associates, stressed that the approval of the United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) will take center stage as the new Congress assumes power, with major consequences for North American trade. Though the Democratic base has become increasingly pro-trade, Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats may be reluctant to yield a major political win to President Donald Trump, and Pelosi could attempt to stall a vote on the deal as she did with the Colombia Free Trade Agreement in 2008.
At least publicly, Democratic leaders have expressed their desire to work with the president on reaching an agreement, which could deliver some minor improvements over the original North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), but they have concerns about elements related to labor and the environment, as well as about the deal’s overall enforceability, panelists noted. It remains to be seen whether the president is willing to negotiate or will resort immediately to his nuclear option: a unilateral withdrawal from NAFTA, which would leave Democrats with six months to decide between the USMCA and the grim alternative of no free trade deal at all. All parties would lose in North America’s highly integrated energy industry, including US refiners and gas producers that import crude oil, steel, and aluminum from both neighboring countries and export heavily to Mexico.
Beyond trade, Congress also has broad powers in global energy diplomacy. The House has important influence on areas such as foreign aid, tax policy, and natural gas exports. Panelists discussed strategic goals the new Congress can pursue next year, such as preventing oil from becoming part of conflicts in the region and reinforcing political stability and good governance. In particular, two new committee chairs will shoulder special responsibility in setting the agenda. Representative Eliot Engel, who will take the helm as chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, brings a strong track record in US-Latin America engagement, having previously chaired the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee. Representative Albio Sires will assume the top role on that subcommittee, and will emphasize his tough stance on Venezuela and on Cuba, where he was born. Closer cooperation on energy in the hemisphere will benefit both the US and Latin American partners, and in the current complex political environment, the new Congress should resolve not to let it fall by the wayside.