Roll up, roll up and invest in Mexico — just not in the oil sector. That is the message from the man picked by Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the frontrunner for the July 1 election, to be his finance minister. “We certainly want more and more foreign, not just Mexican, investment and we’re going to open the door to everything,” Carlos Urzúa told the FT. “The only exception is that there’s going to be a halt to oil tenders, ” said Mr Urzúa, an economics professor and published poet with a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
“But apart from that, anywhere they want to invest, let them invest.” Mexico has awarded more than 100 oil contracts since passing controversial reform in 2013 to end the monopoly of the cash-strapped national oil company, Pemex, which has suffered a fall in output to a four-decade low. New entrants to Mexico, including all of the major oil companies, as well as Chinese, Russian and European groups, have already put $4bn on the table, with as much as $200bn expected to follow as they develop their fields. But Mr López Obrador has called for a halt to tenders to review the contracts awarded so far while deciding the future pace of Mexico’s oil development.
Mr. Urzúa said there was “no certainty” that the tenders would continue. As for potential oil investors, “my suggestion is that they wait and see and maybe invest somewhere else for a time”, he added. Dionisio Garza, the former head of conglomerate Alfa who now runs Jaguar, a small oil company that has won contracts under the reform, said the oil sector could help Mr López Obrador’s plans to create jobs, especially in marginalised areas.