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    US invites Mexico onboard ambitious semiconductor plan

    MEXICO CITY (AFP) – The United States (US) on Monday invited Mexico to join a multibillion dollar push to boost semiconductor manufacturing to compete with China, during a visit by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken for high-level economic talks.

    Officials set aside trade tensions over Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s energy policies and focussed instead on the potential benefits from cooperation in microchips and other technology.

    “We’re really very excited about the opportunities for job creation in Mexico and in the United States,” she added. “The opportunity for Mexico is not just in the manufacturing facilities but in testing, packaging and assembly,” Raimondo told reporters.

    Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard welcomed the US offer to cooperate in semiconductors as “very generous.”

    The two sides struck a conciliatory tone when asked about Lopez Obrador’s energy reform efforts, which face opposition from the United States and Canada.

    Washington in July filed a formal complaint against Mexico under a North American free trade agreement, saying its energy policies discriminated against US firms. “Dispute settlement under international agreements is a normal part of trade relationships even among the closest of partners,” Blinken said.

    Ambassador of Mexico to the US Esteban Moctezuma, US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, Mexico’s Economy Minister Tatiana Clouthier, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Mexico’s Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, and US Ambassador to Mexico Ken Salazar take part in a news conference after the High-Level Economic Dialogue Second Annual Meeting in Mexico City. PHOTO: AP

    “We’re moving full speed ahead in the further integration of our economies and in building the most competitive region in the world. And we’re doing that as you heard through the work on supply chains, on strengthening the work we’re doing together in building a clean energy economy, the work on semiconductors, etc,” he added.

    Earlier Lopez Obrador welcomed the tone of a recent letter from US President Joe Biden, saying Mexico appreciated its “respectful attitude” compared to the trade complaint, which he described as “not the most diplomatic.”

    Lopez Obrador’s push to roll back the effects of liberalisation that he says benefitted private companies has alarmed foreign investors and environmentalists, who see the moves as favouring fossil fuels over renewable energy.

    Washington has requested consultations about the energy dispute under the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement, the first step in a process that could lead to retaliation over actions it says harm US firms and impedes development of clean energy.

    Lopez Obrador visited Washington in July for talks with Biden, who said that the two sides needed to rebuild relations.

    A month earlier, the Mexican leader snubbed Biden by refusing to participate in the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles on the grounds that Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua had not been invited.

    Blinken met with Lopez Obrador ahead of the economic talks and discussed issues including cooperation to deal with irregular migration and the synthetic opioid fentanyl, the State Department said.

    “They also spoke about joint efforts to tackle the climate crisis through investments in clean energy and emerging technologies like electric vehicles, solar technologies, and semiconductors,” a statement said.

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