Jesús Seade is a senior official of the current federal government. He is currently the Mexican ambassador to China, and has been requested, in the last week, by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to help solve the consultations that the United States government requested from Mexico, within the framework of the Treaty between Mexico, United States and Canada (TMEC), formerly NAFTA, because it considers the Mexican energy policy as discriminatory.
Before becoming ambassador, Seade was undersecretary for North America at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from December 1, 2018 to September 1, 2020.
In his first year, he finished renegotiating the new NAFTA, especially with Robert Lighthizer, the United States (EU) trade representative, during the Donald Trump administration, which ended on January 19, 2021.
The renegotiation of the Treaty began during the presidency of Enrique Peña Nieto, with Ildefonso Guajardo as chief negotiator, when López Obrador was declared president-elect in July 2018. Seade was an observer of the renegotiation as part of the economic transition team.
Among the issues that Seade ended up negotiating with Lighthizer and Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s main negotiator, is the energy issue, with a chapter that defends Mexico’s energy sovereignty; the labor sector, to improve wages on the Mexican side. They also highlight the periodic review of the TMEC, which represented the threat of ending the Treaty every five years, known as the sunset clause. Other topics included dispute resolution, government versus government, and business versus business.
“We have to assert our sovereignty and the oil is ours, it belongs to the nation, and that is what we are doing. And everything is going to be clarified and I have already asked Jesús Seade, through the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, to help respond to the query that the United States and Canada are making,” López Obrador said last Thursday, July 21, in his morning conference.
Last week the governments of the US and Canada made formal requests for consultations in relation to the energy issue within the framework of the TMEC.
Career as a negotiator
Of Lebanese origin, Seade is a chemical engineer from the Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM); Master in Economics from the Colegio de México and Doctor in the same subject from the University of Oxford.
His experience as a negotiator began in the body that preceded the World Trade Organization (WTO); the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), as Ambassador of Mexico defending controversial issues such as cement and tuna with the United States.
He promoted the creation of the WTO and was one of the first three directors general to contribute to the preparation of the Analysis of the Agreements of the Uruguay Round. In 1994, he negotiated Mexico’s accession to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). In 1998 he worked as an assistant director at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) until he became a senior adviser on fiscal matters.
Before being invited by López Obrador to his transition economic team, the doctor in Economics was vice president of the Lingnan University in Hong Kong; he also taught at the same university from 2007 to 2016. In 2017 he was appointed associate vice president for global affairs at the Chinese University of Hong Kong Shenzhen.
With information from Dainzú Patiño.