Photo of Kimberly Breier

Kimberly Breier

Kimberly Breier has more than 20 years of experience in foreign policy, primarily focused on Western Hemisphere affairs. Prior to joining the firm, Ms. Breier, a non-lawyer, was Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. She also served as the Western Hemisphere Member of the Policy Planning Staff.

Ms. Breier was previously the founder and Director of the U.S.-Mexico Futures Initiative, and the Deputy Director of the Americas Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). She also was Vice President of a consulting firm, leading country risk assessment teams for private clients in Mexico, Argentina, and Chile.

In addition to her private sector and think tank experience, Ms. Breier served for more than a decade in the U.S. intelligence community as a political analyst and manager, primarily focused on Latin America.

From January 2005 to June 2006, Ms. Breier served at the White House in the National Security Council’s Office of Western Hemisphere Affairs, first as Director for Brazil and the Southern Cone, then as Director for Mexico and Canada, and also as an interim Director for the Andean region.

Prior to her government service, Ms. Breier was a senior fellow and director of the National Policy Association’s North American Committee—a trilateral business and labor committee with members from the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

Key Points

  • Mexico’s Supreme Court (“SCJN”) has decided or will decide on the fate of key policies promoted by President López Obrador.
  • Lacking a super majority in Congress to amend the Constitution, López Obrador has seen several of his legislative bills declared unconstitutional, like an overhaul of the electoral system, while others are still pending full review by the SCJN, such as the Electric Power Industry Law.
  • Open confrontation between the President and the SCJN has become more evident this year. A slate of candidates summited early November by the President to fill an open seat in the SCJN heralds closer alignment with Morena—the President’s party—and reflects how the SCJN is central for cementing the future of López Obrador’s self-described “Fourth Transformation of Mexico.”
  • The composition of the SCJN will play a decisive role well beyond the end of the López Obrador administration (September 2024) in areas that are critical for the overall business climate, such as energy, tax policy, antitrust, the role of the armed forces in public security, telecom, cybersecurity and artificial intelligence regulation, among others.

López Obrador and the SCJN

On November 7, 2023, the former President of Mexico’s SCJN, Arturo Zaldívar resigned prematurely, a year before the end of his term and after serving in the Court for 14 years. The day after his resignation, Mr. Zaldívar joined the campaign of López Obrador’s favored candidate to succeed him as president, Claudia Sheinbaum. Mr. Zaldívar’s resignation caused a political uproar and was widely perceived as a move that allows López Obrador to get a new SCJN Minister for a full new term. The Constitution only permits ministers to resign for “serious reasons,” and it is expected that Zaldívar will have a prominent role in a future Morena administration, including that of Attorney General after the two-year cool-off period required by the Constitution.

Out of 11 magistrates on the SCJN, four have entered the bench during López Obrador’s tenure, following Senate confirmation: Juan Luis González Alcántara y Carrancá (12/2018), Yasmín Esquivel Mossa (03/2019), Ana Margarita Ríos Farjat (12/2019), and Loretta Ortiz Ahlf (12/2021). This new vacancy in the Court allows the President to nominate a fifth Supreme Court minister, who will serve for a 15-year term.

The President accepted Zaldívar’s resignation and, on November 15, 2023, sent to the Senate his slate of candidates to replace him. The candidates are all women who currently work in his administration, are members of his Morena party and are aligned to his political ideology and government program. Two of them are also related to important members of the party (one is the sister of the Interior Minister and the other is the sister of the Major of Mexico City).Continue Reading Recent Developments in Mexico’s Supreme Court

The Government of Brazil has initiated a public consultation offering companies, business associations or civil society organizations an opportunity to comment on the country’s proposed new foreign trade strategy.

The consultation was initiated by the Foreign Trade Board (CAMEX), Brazil’s federal government interagency mechanism to coordinate the country’s trade policy.  CAMEX is part of the

Funding incentives under the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA) to transition to a clean energy economy are unleashing opportunities for key U.S. allies and partners around the world. In particular, tax credits exceeding 10% of the price of average electric vehicle (EV) sold in the United States are leading to new investments in Mexico and Canada, and have triggered high-level political negotiations from U.S. partners such as the European Union and Japan.

IRA Tax Credits for EV Critical Minerals and Battery Components

Under the IRA, EVs and batteries produced in North America (including Mexico and Canada) may qualify for significant tax breaks. Partial tax breaks are also available for EVs with batteries utilizing critical minerals extracted or processed in countries with which the U.S. has a free trade agreement (FTA).

As we previously discussed in greater technical detail, the IRA amended the Clean Vehicle Credit under section 30D of the U.S. tax code to provide a $7,500 consumer tax credit for the purchase of a qualified vehicle such as an EV. This consists of $3,750 for vehicles meeting the “critical minerals” requirements and $3,750 for those meeting the “battery components” requirements.

  • Under the critical minerals requirements, a share of critical minerals contained in the battery of a qualified vehicle must have beenextracted or processed in the U.S. or in a country with which the U.S. has an FTA, or recycled in North America. The applicable share is at least 40 percent for vehicles placed in service in 2023, and increasing by 10% per year until reaching 80% for vehicles placed in services after 2026.
  • Under the battery components requirements, final assembly must have occurred in North America and the percentage of the value of the components contained in such battery that were manufactured or assembled in North America must be equal to or greater than the “applicable percentage,” i.e., “60% for 2024 and 2025 vehicles, and going up 10% per year till past 2028 at 100%.”

Continue Reading Global Spotlight: the IRA’s Implications for Key U.S. Allies

Bottom Line

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador submitted bills to Congress intended to further curtail the rights of private investors in the mining sector and beyond.  As part of his resource nationalism agenda, on display in the energy sector at first, López Obrador has also nationalized lithium reserves and created a state‑owned company to lead development of those reserves.  The new bills, which target other minerals and concessions in the country, have been met with shock and disappointment.  If passed as drafted, and to the extent the proposed amendments are implemented to restrict vested rights arising from pre-existing mining and potentially other concessions, these bills may result in the expropriation of foreign investments and other breaches of Mexico’s obligations under applicable international investment agreements.

Legislative Process

On Tuesday March 28th, López Obrador sent to the Chamber of Deputies a bill seeking to reform the Mining Law, the National Water Law, the General Law of Ecological Equilibrium and Environmental Protection, and the General Law for Prevention and Integral Management of Waste Residues (the “Mining Bill”).  

The Mining Bill will be discussed and reviewed by four Committees in the lower house – three of them presided over by López Obrador’s party, MORENA, or allied parties – giving it a relatively easy path forward.  The Mining Bill requires a simple majority to be approved, and MORENA and its allied parties have the required votes to pass it.  Considering that the current legislative session ends on April 30th, it is possible that the bill will move fast through the Chamber of Deputies.  

In the Senate, the Mining Bill might face some opposition but probably not enough to make substantial changes as most of the commissions where it will be discussed are also presided over by MORENA or its allies.

Around the same time, López Obrador also sent to the Chamber of Deputies a bill that includes sweeping changes to administrative regulations, including rules for concessions, permits and other authorizations, which could impact the mining, infrastructure and energy sectors, among others (the “Administrative Law Bill”).  While MORENA has enough votes to pass the Administrative Law Bill as well, it may face more resistance, particularly in the Senate.Continue Reading Mexico: Proposed Changes to Mining, Environmental, and Administrative Laws Increase Regulatory Risk, Impact Private Participation in Regulated Sectors, and Could Lead to Investment Claims

Executive Summary

In this alert, we look at Colombian President Gustavo Petro’s first months in office and the outlook for his reform agenda in 2023.  We discuss the implications for U.S.-Colombia relations and for doing business in the country.

  • Petro’s election has led to a reconfiguration of power structures in Colombia and a change in the way policies are designed and implemented. The administration has a statist bent and views the private sector’s role as less prominent than prior administrations. There is less emphasis on attracting investment.
  • This year will be crucial for Petro’s reform agenda and for his party, Pacto Histórico. The government’s energy transition policy and labor, health care, and pension reforms will shape Colombia’s economy in the decades to come and companies will need to be on notice that coming changes may be profound.
  • The Biden and Petro administrations have made efforts to find common ground. But the change of leadership in the House of Representatives, the proximity of the 2024 U.S. presidential election, an emboldened Florida GOP, and implementation of controversial reforms in Colombia could test the relationship in 2023.
  • Security remains a key concern for companies doing business in Colombia and conditions have deteriorated in the past few years. Progress on peace negotiations and the government’s new crime and drug policies will determine whether conditions improve.

Petro’s First Months in Office

“Today begins the Colombia of the possible. Today begins our second opportunity,” Petro told a cheering crowd in Bogotá on August 7. His inauguration as President of Colombia, he said, marked the end of Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude for the Colombian people. The election and orderly transition to a left-wing former guerrilla president and the first Afro-Colombian vice president in the country’s history showed the strength of Colombia’s democracy, one of the oldest and most stable in the Americas.Continue Reading Colombia in 2023: A Crucial Year for Petro’s Reform Agenda

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Since entry into force of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (“USMCA”) in July 2020, the United States has brought two known complaints against Mexico under the Agreement’s Facility-Specific Rapid Response Labor Mechanism (“RRM”), concerning allegations that workers at two different factories in Mexico were being denied their fundamental right to organize.

The Office of the

  •  On September 30, 2021, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador presented to Congress a constitutional reform of the electricity sector which modifies three articles of the Mexican Constitution (25, 27 and 28), reversing key parts of the 2014 energy reform that opened the sector to private investment. The congressional debate and vote on the reform are

  • President López Obrador has been a strong critic of independent regulators, including the anti-trust (COFECE) and telecommunications (IFT) regulators.
  • COFECE is at an inflection point with a leadership transition this month while it continues to be under pressure from the López Obrador administration.
  • Eliminating or reducing the autonomy of these bodies will undermine free market

  • The composition of the Chamber of Deputies of the new Congress will challenge President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s ability to enact constitutional changes and consolidate the agenda of his party, Morena.
  • Companies should watch the coming budget battle in Congress because of its implications for the economy overall and for tax collection.
  • Prospects for a