US raises concerns on Mexico’s nationalistic energy policy

MEXICO CITY — The U.S. trade representative said Wednesday that she has raised the concerns about Mexico’s energy policies that favor state-owned Mexican companies.

Katherine Tai spoke following meetings with Mexico’s economy secretary and Canada’s top international trade official to mark the first year of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement.

Tai said that “we are raising our concerns” about President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s energy sector policies.

López Obrador has launched a nationalistic campaign to end gasoline imports and stop or reduce exports of crude oil.

His pet projects include building oil refineries in Mexico, and he has also tried to rein in foreign companies that built wind and solar farms to produce electricity in Mexico. He has also put on hold long-anticipated bidding on oil exploration contracts.

López Obrador pushed through a law earlier this year that will allow the government to seize private gas stations in case of “imminent danger to national security, energy security or the economy” and give them to the state-owed oil company to run.

López Obrador says the law is meant to combat contraband gasoline imports, because he claims private imports of gasoline — which he dislikes on ideological grounds — often don’t pay taxes.

Judges in Mexico have granted injunctions against some of the president’s measures.