Mexican Economy Minister Tatiana Clauther resigned Thursday, causing Mexico to lose one of its main trade negotiators as its government tries to avoid a major energy dispute with the United States and Canada.
Clouther, a scion of a powerful political family who became economy minister early last year, said she first told President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador that she intended to resign, shortly after Mexico’s energy conflict threatened at great cost.
Her resignation took effect immediately.
The United States requested talks with Mexico to settle energy disputes on July 20. Clouther said she discussed her resignation with Lopez Obrador on July 26 and used baseball as a metaphor to explain her decision.
“Just like in the game, you have to know when you’re going to retire,” Clotheer said as Lopez Obrador stood by her.
Lopez Obrador, a baseball fan, has made strengthening state energy control a cornerstone of his economic agenda. This policy has angered American and Canadian investors, who claim their companies are unfairly disadvantaged.
The US energy complaint, joined by Canada, has put Clothier in a difficult position, requiring it to defend a policy that Mexican officials say would potentially violate a North American trade agreement that López Obrador is also bound by.
When Clothier read her visibly moved resignation letter at a government news conference, she said she also discussed her plan to resign with Lopez Obrador in September.
Lopez Obrador said he respects her decision. “We insisted that she stay, but she is a woman of convictions,” he added.
Lopez Obrador said a replacement for Clouther would be announced on Friday.
Her departure comes just days after the end of the initial consultation period over the energy row. Washington had the option of requesting the formation of a dispute commission after 75 days, but US and Mexican officials told Reuters that talks would continue.
Trade experts say that if the dispute ends in a commission, Mexico risks filing punitive charges.
Clotheer thanked the president for showing her that “there is no stress, sickness, or insurmountable handicap when it comes to public service”.
Lopez Obrador did not respond to a reporter’s question about whether Clouther was ill.
Clotheer, a former congressman and former member of the opposition center-right National Action Party (PAN), later joined left-wing Lopez Obrador and was instrumental in helping run his 2018 presidential campaign (reporting by Kylie Madre; additional reporting by Sarah Morland and Raul Curtis; Editing by Dave Graham and Jonathan Otis)
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