Mexico, U.S. trade officials discuss energy, corn exports, environment

WASHINGTON, Dec 1 (Reuters) - U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai met Mexican Economy Minister Raquel Buenrostro and stressed the need to make progress in talks over Mexico's energy measures and its fisheries-related environmental laws, the USTR office said.

Tai also stressed the importance of avoiding any disruption in U.S. corn exports to Mexico, the USTR office said in a statement late on Thursday.

The United States and Mexico have been holding talks to resolve a dispute over energy policy. The USTR in July demanded dispute settlement talks on the grounds that Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's energy policies discriminated against U.S. companies and violated a North American trade pact.

At the heart of the U.S. complaint, which Canada joined, are hold-ups in granting permits, a Mexican electricity law that prioritizes state firms, and other rules that investors feel disadvantage them, industry sources said.

The USTR complaint argued Mexico's drive to tighten state control of the energy market was unfair to its companies and likely in breach of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

Under that trade deal, if such a disagreement is not resolved in 75 days of consultations, a dispute panel can be requested to review claims. A panel could expose Mexico to the risk of punitive trade tariffs.

The Mexican economy ministry has invited Tai's team to hold third round of energy consultations in the coming days in Mexico City, according to a ministry statement published separately Thursday. Buenrostro proposed establishing working groups, which would meet during December and early January to discuss the different aspects of the energy consultations.

In October, Mexico's economy ministry said that dialogue had been "productive" with U.S. and Canadian counterparts, and that they wanted to keep talking to reach a "mutually satisfactory" solution.

Reporting by Kanishka Singh; Editing by Sandra Maler and Grant McCool

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