Access Alert: COFECE, IFT and INAI Should be Untouchable

Access Alert: COFECE, IFT and INAI Should be Untouchable

Newly-appointed Mexican Secretary of the Economy Tatiana Clouthier convened with leaders of the MORENA ruling party on 29 January. During the meeting, Clouthier emphasized that autonomous agencies such as the Federal Telecommunications Institute (IFT) and the Federal Economic Competition Commission (COFECE) will not be dissolved. After speaking with President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO), she announced that Mexico’s leader had decided that both agencies “should not be touched” amid provisions agreed to under the USMCA (Chapter 18 on telecommunications and Chapter 21 on competition policy). This follows AMLO’s announcement that he plans abolish autonomous agencies, a “money-saving” move which falls in line with other power-centralization tactics carried out since he took office.

Eliminating regulatory counterweights in government poses risks for democracy, hampers the authorities’ ability to respond to complex issues and fosters uncertainty for businesses. Under Ministerial control, competition and telecom issues are prone to becoming more political, creating a “less friendly” environment for private firms. With the midterm elections approaching, politicians will be formulating their approach. While the President is sidelined by COVID-19, it remains to be determined whether MORENA will double down on dissolving these agencies and seek electoral momentum or place it on the backburner until after the July 2021 elections. The latter approach comes with a caveat—if AMLO achieves a 2/3 supermajority, his party would have a blank check to modify the constitution at will.

Between the lines: What was the elephant in the room? No mention was made of the National Institute for Transparency, Access to Information and Personal Data Protection (INAI), a relevant autonomous agency recently caught in the spotlight for cautioning users on WhatsApp’s new privacy policy.

Access Partnership is closely monitoring all developments regarding Mexico’s telecoms and competition sector. For more information regarding this matter, please contact Yamel Sarquis (yamel.sarquis@accesspartnership.com).

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