U.S. ambassador eyes solution on Mexico power bill, underscores U.S. investment

U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Ken Salazar attends a news conference in Mexico City, Mexico, November 9, 2021. REUTERS/Gustavo Graf/File Photo

MEXICO CITY, Nov 9 (Reuters) - The U.S. ambassador to Mexico said on Tuesday he hoped concerns could be resolved over a contentious Mexican electricity bill that has alarmed private investors, as he underlined the importance of American investment to the Mexican economy.

Ambassador Ken Salazar last week said Washington had "serious concerns" about the initiative championed by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador which aims to strengthen state control of the power market at the expense of private companies.

Speaking to reporters in Mexico City, Salazar said he believed that a "resolution" was possible over the proposal, and he pointed to the millions of dollars in investment U.S. companies were bringing to Mexico's renewable energy sector.

Business groups have expressed concern the bill could be in breach of Mexico's trade and investment commitments with the United States and Canada, and Salazar said North America was destined to become increasingly integrated economically.

"So Mexico needs investment from American companies here in Mexico, not just in energy matters, but also many other things, and we've had a lot of meetings with companies that create hundreds of thousands of jobs in all Mexico," Salazar said.

"We must also ensure that we will have the energy needed for the development of the Mexican economy."

The United States is by far Mexico's biggest trade partner, and the largest provider of foreign direct investment.

As Salazar raised his concerns last week, Mexico's ruling party opted to postpone debate of the power bill until 2022, in a possible sign the government is open to addressing concerns.

Lopez Obrador has championed the electricity overhaul and related measures, arguing that previous Mexican governments rigged the energy sector in favor of private capital to the detriment of consumers and Mexico's state run energy companies.

Reporting by Dave Graham, writing by Cassandra Garrison; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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