Jan. 27 (UPI) -- Even as the Trump administration threatened to tighten U.S.-Mexican trade policy, an Energy Department review said Mexico will remain a top fuel export market.
A meeting between the U.S. president and his Mexican counterpart, Enrique Peña Nieto, was canceled after the White House took steps toward heightened security measures along the shared border. Donald Trump said Mexico should pay for the effort and threatened tighter trade policies in response to Peña Nieto's balk.
Trump's effort at countering what his administration sees as an unfair trade relationship with Mexico comes as Peña Nieto aims to reform the nation's energy sector through a privatization scheme. Before Trump's inauguration, Angel Gurria, the secretary-general of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, said Mexico's economy was already facing headwinds because of a "highly complicated global backdrop."
Peña Nieto faced pressure at home when retail gasoline prices spiked up to 20 percent after the government left the sector open to market dynamics to start 2017. A review from the U.S. Energy Department's Energy Information Administration, meanwhile, finds Mexico depends heavily on the United States to make up for the lack of supplies to meet its refinery demand.
In a profile, the EIA said Mexican reform efforts could eventually sway internal market dynamics, but for now, "Mexico will remain a major destination for U.S. exports."
EIA said that, by its estimate, U.S. gasoline exports accounted for nearly half of the Mexico's gasoline consumption for the first 10 months of last year. For the United States, the Mexican market represented more than half of total gasoline exports for the same time frame.
The OECD said it expected the Mexican economy to grow at around 2.3 percent this year and manage only a 0.1 percent gain next year. The deregulation that caused gas prices to spike at the start of 2017 is part of a broader reform program meant to open the country up to outside oil investment for the first time since 1938, when the Mexican government took control of the country's oil industry and sidelined foreign investments.