Oil and gas lobbyists pressed for exemption from Trump’s Mexico tariffs
Oil and natural gas executives are breathing a sigh of relief after the United States and Mexico reached a deal to avoid tariffs threatening to constrict a burgeoning flow of crude oil and refined fuels between the two countries.
But the agreement is hardly going to be the end of trade tensions. Trump has shown he is willing to disrupt relations with Mexico and China, two of the largest U.S. trading partners, to a degree that sends shivers through the spines of fellow Republicans on Capitol Hill, as well as many of corporate executives who normally cheer the administration for easing regulations on businesses.
And Trump’s unpredictable behavior could still affect ratification by Congress of a renegotiated North American free-trade deal known as USMCA.
Frustrated by the flow of migrants at the southern border, Trump in a series of tweets late last month threatened tariffs on all Mexican imports, which would have started at 5 percent and could have risen to 25 percent.
That tweet sent representatives for refineries along the Gulf of Mexico into a lobbying overdrive.
“I feel like I’ve aged 20 years since last Thursday,” said Joshua Zive, a counselor at the law and lobbying firm Bracewell, which representatives refiners and other energy companies.
Their ask: that the heavy crude oil making its way to Gulf refineries receive an exemption under the threatened tariffs. Mexico is the third largest supplier of crude oil to the United States behind Canada and Saudi Arabia, exporting 665,000 barrels per day on average in 2018, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Refinery representatives pressed their case, according to their offices, in a flurry of phone calls to officials in the White House and at various other offices, including the departments of Commerce, Energy, State and Treasury, and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative — anyone who would listen.