Search

 

Cablegate: Mexican Finance Undersecretary Optimitic On Energy

VZCZCXRO3133
RR RUEHCD RUEHGD RUEHHO RUEHMC RUEHNG RUEHNL RUEHRD RUEHRS RUEHTM
DE RUEHME #4867/01 2531919
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 101919Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY MEXICO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8809
INFO RUEHXC/ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MEXICO 004867

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/MEX, WHA/EPSC, EB/IFD/OMA
STATE FOR EB/ESC MCMANUS AND IZZO
USDOC FOR 4320/ITA/MAC/WH/ONAFTA/GWORD
USDOC FOR ITS/TD/ENERGY DIVISION
TREASURY FOR IA (ALICE FAIBISHENKO)
DOE FOR INTL AFFAIRS KDEUTSCH, ALOCKWOOD, AND GWARD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ENRG EPET ECON MX
SUBJECT: MEXICAN FINANCE UNDERSECRETARY OPTIMITIC ON ENERGY
REFORM

Introduction and Summary
------------------------

1. (SBU) In an August 21 meeting with Congressman Roy Blunt
(R-Missouri) Mexican Finance Undersecretary Alejandro Werner
(strictly protect throughout) predicted that if fiscal reform
goes well, the Calderon Administration would next turn to
reform in the energy sector. He explained that Pemex needs
to retain more revenue in order to make the investments
needed to reverse the current decline in oil production, and
described the need to overhaul Pemex's corporate governance.
In order to develop new technology and get technology
transfer needed to explore new deep water fields, Pemex must
be allowed some form of association with other companies.
Nevertheless, despite his substantial authority as a senior
member of the Administration, Werner's optimism does not jive
with our other energy sector sources. End Introduction and
Summary.

Mexico Needs Private Sector Involvement
--------------------------------

2. (SBU) Werner explained that of all the countries in the
world, Mexico was the most closed to foreign investment in
the energy sector. Even Cuba allows Spanish refineries.
Mexico imports growing volumes of gasoline from the U.S.
rather than allow private investment in refineries. Werner
noted that Pemex shares ownership with foreign firms --
specifically Shell -- for its U.S.-based operations, but not
for operations based in Mexico. Werner noted that many
state-owned energy companies in other countries allowed
public-private partnerships, in order to modernize their
operations. He said that currently Pemex accounts for about
8 percent of GDP, five percent of which goes directly to the
government, and only three percent of which is left for
Pemex. He said that in order to develop new technology and
get technology transfer to explore new deep water fields,
Pemex must be allowed some form of association with other
companies.

Better Business Practices
-------------------------

3. (SBU) Werner described the need to overhaul Pemex's
financial and management structure, perhaps floating capital
in stock markets and allowing significant representation of
Pemex's board for minority shareholders. Pemex also needs
corporate accounting practices so that Pemex would be
governed by market rather than government controls. He added
that Pemex should look at market incentives like the
Brazilian and Norwegian state oil companies. The goal would
be to provide market oversight of Pemex.

Reform in 2008
--------------

4. (SBU) Werner predicted that if the Calderon
Administration succeeds in its current attempt to get the
Congress to pass fiscal reform, the government should have a
signficant package on energy reform approved by the middle of
2008. He said Mexico was stuck in an ideological discussion
on whether to "privatize" Pemex. The Mexican Government
would not privatize Pemex; rather, it needed to undertake a
"process of reforms." The Administration and Congress were
not holding "all or nothing" discussions. Werner said the
current discussions with the PRI on energy reform were
"driven by the PRI," rather than by "taboos" over whether to
allow private sector participation that have long blocked
reasoned debate. During Congressional debate on fiscal
reform, the PRI had called on the government to address
Pemex's declining revenues, which in turn Werner said was
leading to discussion on improving Pemex's corporate
governance. Werner said this discussion would also include
consideration of allowing Pemex to make some form some of
association with private companies. Between energy and
fiscal reform, Werner said he thought the PRI was ready to
support a program that would give the government 80% of what
was needed to fix the challenge Mexico faces from low tax
revenues and declining oilproduciton. Werner chose his words
carefully, stressing that there was no discussion of
privatization. Nor did he specifically mention foreign

MEXICO 00004867 002 OF 002


investment. He noted that in considering energy reform, all
sides were haunted by the narrow election results in July
2006, so that nobody wanted to give the PRD issues it could
use to raise "nationalistic fervor."

5. (SBU) Werner was optimistic the Congress would support
reform of the energy sector, because Congress already
supported reform on the financial sector to address the
problem of overly conservative rules for lending by banks to
small and medium enterprises (SME's) that result in rules
impossible for SME's to comply with. (Werner noted the need
to work to push lending to SME's over the next few years.
He said that in Mexico private sector lending was 16% of GDP,
while in Chile it was 60 to 70 %.)

Comment
-------
6. (SBU) Werner's optimistic outlook on the future of energy
reform mirrors what we heard from the Calderon team early in
the term: (1) energy reform was synonymous with making Pemex
more efficient; (2) no Mexican party wants to "privatize"
Pemex, but rather the word "privatization" was only a word
used by the PRD to over politicize the debate, and; (3) the
market could do a better job of overseeing Pemex than
government regulators. Nine months into the Administration
the picture has become more obscure, and few observers,
besides Werner, now share the Undersecretary's optimism.
Energy Secretariat officials who had previously described
aggressive plans to win over Congress are silent. Outside
observers who had been enthusiastic about the chances for
reform under Calderon have become much more cautious, and
relatively minor changes in distribution of Pemex tax revenue
are now being touted as energy reform by the PRD and the PRI.
End Comment.

Visit Mexico City's Classified Web Site at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/wha/mexicocity and the North American
Partnership Blog at http://www.intelink.gov/communities/state/nap /
GARZA

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Ramzy Baroud: Year in Review Will 2018 Usher in a New Palestinian Strategy

2017 will be remembered as the year that the so-called ‘peace process’, at least in its American formulation, has ended. And with its demise, a political framework that has served as the foundation for US foreign policy in the Middle East has also collapsed. More>>

ALSO:


North Korea: NZ Denounces Missile Test

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters has denounced North Korea’s latest ballistic missile test. The test, which took place this morning, is North Korea’s third test flight of an inter-continental ballistic missile. More>>

ALSO:

Campbell On: the US demonising of Iran

Satan may not exist, but the Evil One has always been a handy tool for priests and politicians alike.

Currently, Iran is the latest bogey conjured up by Washington to (a) justify its foreign policy interventions and (b) distract attention from its foreign policy failures.

Once upon a time, the Soviet Union was the nightmare threat for the entire Cold War era – and since then the US has cast the Taliban, al Qaeda, and Islamic State in the same demonic role. Iran is now the latest example…More


Catalan Independence:
Pro-independence parties appear to have a narrow majority. More>>