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Mexico feels energy buzz with N. America summit

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 19, 2014 at 5:39 pm •  Published: February 19, 2014

MEXICO CITY (AP) — The North American Free Trade Agreement has been good for Eugenio Madero's company. Now he's hoping that a deeper plunge into economic integration, focused on Mexican energy, will be even better.

Madero is CEO of SANLUIS Rassini North America, a Mexico-based maker of suspension and brake systems for an auto industry that has embraced free trade by increasingly sending components and vehicles across borders.

The company has a plant in Montpelier, Ohio, and just opened another in Flint, Michigan to serve clients such as Chevrolet, Ford and Chrysler. It has seven plants in Mexico and two in Brazil. Revenues have grown 70 times — to nearly $11.5 billion pesos — in the last 25 years, significantly aided by the free trade deal that took effect in 1994.

"Being in Mexico is just geography. We could be in Detroit," Madero said.

The leaders of the three NAFTA nations met Wednesday in Mexico in part to highlight the economic cooperation that has grown since NAFTA joined the U.S., Canada and Mexico 20 years ago. But all eyes, including Madero's, were on one key area that NAFTA didn't touch: energy.

Experts say the continent of three oil-producing countries could become energy independent with Mexico's reform, which eliminates the state monopoly and opens the oil sector to international investment and contractors with expertise to extract the country's vast proven reserves.

For Madero and plant owners across Mexico, the more near-term impact could be cheaper electricity. His company now must import natural gas and electricity from Texas to run its border plant in Coahuila, even though Mexico sits on a vast supply of shale gas it so far has been unable to tap.

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