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

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

  •  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