Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for January 12, 2023

Newsline: U.S. State Department investigates Mexico’s energy protectionism

The State Department contacted U.S. energy companies ahead of this week’s North American summit to ask them how Mexico’s protectionist policies have impacted their business operations there, according to a document seen by Reuters. The State Department sent an email to U.S. energy companies last week asking them how many permits and applications they had applied for in Mexico over the past three years, identify which ones were denied, and list any projects shelved due to the “permitting challenges.” (https://neuters.de/business/energy/state-dept-asked-us-energy-firms-about-mexico-protectionism-prior-summit-2023-01-11/) U.S. President Joe Biden and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador failed to resolve a running energy dispute during two days of talks that ended on Tuesday. The query shows the Biden administration was looking to arm itself with details it could use in talks with Mexico as it seeks to demonstrate the country is flouting a regional trade agreement and potentially stunting its own economic growth in the process. Officials at the State Department and the American Petroleum Institute, the U.S. oil industry’s main trade group, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Newsline: UK top diplomat says gaps remain in Northern Ireland talks with EU

There are still genuine differences between British and European Union negotiators that could take some time to resolve if talks on revising post-Brexit trade rules for Northern Ireland are to succeed, Britain’s foreign minister said. James Cleverly was speaking after meeting political and business leaders in Northern Ireland to discuss difficulties about the trading arrangements after a mellowing in a years-long standoff yielded some progress this week. “Optimism is great, having a spirit of optimism is important but there are still genuine differences and they can’t just be wished away, they need to be resolved and sometimes that does take some time,” Cleverly told reporters. (https://neuters.de/world/uk/uk-ministers-meet-northern-irish-leaders-post-brexit-trade-2023-01-11/) The post-Brexit trading arrangements, the so-called Northern Ireland protocol agreed with the European Union, has put strains not only on the British-run province but also on ties between London and Brussels over the deal. But over the last few months, the tone of talks to try to resolve differences over the protocol has softened, with the antagonism that marked the discussions since 2019 replaced by what appears to be a new push to find a negotiated settlement.

Newsline: Brazil to name woman as ambassador to Washington for first time

Diplomat Maria Luiza Viotti is expected to be the new Brazilian ambassador in Washington, a source with knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Wednesday, as President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva pushes for more women in important diplomatic posts. Her appointment has not yet officially been confirmed by Brazil’s Foreign Ministry, pending talks with U.S. officials. If appointed, she will be the first woman to be Brazilian envoy the United States. (https://neuters.de/world/americas/brazil-name-woman-envoy-washington-first-time-source-2023-01-11/) Viotti’s appointment would need confirmation by the Brazilian Senate. Viotti, who served as chief of staff to U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres from 2016-2021, is a top level diplomat who was Brazil’s ambassador to the United Nations and later to Germany. Lula’s government is making an effort to include more women in top diplomatic positions. Ambassador Maria Laura da Rocha was named deputy foreign minister and a woman is also being considered for the embassy in Argentina, the source said.