Jesús Seade, Mexico’s present ambassador to China, was appointed by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to lead negotiations in response to U.S. and Canadian accusations of protectionism and violation of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement — accusations of favoritism for state-owned Petróleos Mexicanos and the Federal Electricity Commission.
The contents of USMCA remain a mystery. There are many opinions, but all of them end with assumptions. As the negotiator for USMCA Seade once claimed that little was known in Mexico regarding the terms of the agreement. He woke up one morning to news that the U.S. was free to send supervisors to force Mexico to comply with labor issues — basically, union rights. Soon after this hit the press in the U.S., Seade flew to Washington and ended up eating crow. He accepted the conditions of former President Donald Trump’s government.
Seade convinced Obrador that the Senate of the Republic — with a Morenista majority — should give fast-track approval of the new USMCA, which would be explained later.
The new USMCA agreement — an international treaty they could barely read, let alone analyze — received majority approval.
Now, Seade is being called upon to lead Mexico’s defense against its partners, the United States and Canada, with very little chance of success. Seade openly agreed that AMLO’s government would respect Enrique Peña Nieto’s energy reform, including contracts and constitutional changes.
On many occasions, we made it clear that the current government’s actions went against the USMCA, but we were ignored.
Juan Carlos Baker, former undersecretary of commerce and former member of the negotiating team for the treaty in the Peña Nieto administration, is optimistic that a great negotiating team will represent Mexico. Key is knowing if Seade can team up with Secretary of Economy Tatiana Clouthier, or whether, as in the past, he will prefer to work alone.
The complaint made by the U.S. and Canada is simply the culmination of a series of conservative measures. To fail to take a stand and to claim that we accept the USMCA — essentially a neoliberal treaty within a nationalist policy — is like putting the oars of the Catholic Church in the hands of Martin Luther, who is rowing in the opposite direction.