MEXICO CITY (Reuters) -The United States and Canada urged Mexico to respect foreign investments during trade discussions on Monday, officials said, while Washington also raised issues over Mexican farm produce.
The talks came at the start of the first meeting of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) Free Trade Commission, which centers on the trade accord that last year replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement (USMCA).
Virtual talks were held bilaterally between Mexican Economy Minister Tatiana Clouthier and her counterparts U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Mary Ng, Canada’s Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade.
The Mexican Economy Ministry said Clouthier and Tai discussed auto sector rules of origin, Mexico’s labor market reform, collaboration on environmental issues and ongoing U.S. probes into Mexican agricultural products.
In a statement, Tai’s office said the agricultural issues spanned science and risk-based regulation and biotechnology products in Mexico, as well as access to U.S. potatoes.
Talks touched on facilitating trade and Mexico’s pledge to uphold workers’ rights under its labor reform, it added.
Tai also pressed for Mexican energy policy that “respects U.S. investment” and is in line with climate change goals.
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has upset business groups and several of Mexico’s top trade partners by trying to renegotiate energy contracts awarded under his predecessors that he says were skewed in favor of the private sector.
Separately, Ng underlined Canada’s commitment to working with Mexico to address trade and investment issues, including auto rules of origin, and to supporting Mexico’s efforts to enact its labor reform, her office said in a statement.
“She also reiterated Canada’s concerns about the current investment climate in Mexico, especially in its mining and energy sectors,” the statement said.
(Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon in Mexico City, David Lawder in Washington and David Ljunggren in Ottawa; editing by Richard Pullin)