It’s hard to believe that the holiday season is upon us and we’re already just a few weeks away from 2022.

The past 12 months have brought quite a bit of uncertainty and complexity, but also notable successes. One of the things that makes me so proud to be a part of White & Case is the firm’s capacity to creatively deal with complex problems. In fact, the Financial Times namedWhite & Casethe most innovative law firm in North America for business law in 2021.

As with mypast end-of-year newsletters, yet again, we’re wrapping up this year with uncertainty, amid continuing concerns over China, U.S. inflation, the Omicron COVID-19 variant, andother potential risks.

As we conclude 2021, U.S-China relationsremain strained. Earlier this year, Secretary of State Blinkensaidthat managing the U.S.’ relations with China was the “biggest geopolitical test of the 21st century”.And in last month’s virtual summit, President Biden and China’s top leader Xi Jingpingfailed to make progressin thawing long-standing contention over trade, Taiwan, andtechissues.

The U.S. economy, while growing, also faces a number of challenges. Last month, U.S. inflation rose6.8 percent from the previous year, reaching a nearly 40-year record. Supply chains continue to experience disruptions, resulting fromhigh consumer demandandsuppliers’ struggle to get goods onto the shelvesand e-commerce delivered to shoppers’ doorsteps.

The COVID-19 pandemic left us a lot to mourn in 2021. Over5.2 million peoplehave lost their lives from the virus to date and many others continue to suffer from the economic impact or social isolation. The recent discovery of theOmicron COVID-19 variantled tonew travel restrictionsandmarkets also reacted.

Looking forward to 2022, there are several encouraging signs. In the past 12 months, over 8 billion vaccination doses have been administered worldwide.New variants have shown us that equitable vaccine distributionaround the globe will be key to successfully tackle COVID-19.

On another note, freight congestion and supply shortagesmay be easing,and supply chainscould be back on trackby the second half of 2022. Last week, JP Morganpredictedthat 2022 will mark the end of the pandemic and see full market recovery. And a silver lining of supply chain challenges is the recenteconomic boom along Mexico’s northern border, as multinationals move to relocate factories closer to the U.S.

Yet, uncertainty will remain heightened in 2022. Emerging markets are likely to struggle as investors flock to more secure havens like the U.S. And Mexico’s business climate will remainparticularly challenging for investors. Despite pressure from U.S. political and business leaders, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has yet to change course on thorny issues, such ashis reversal ofthe 2013 energy reform.

Business in Mexico will be further complicated by upcoming political developments. Lopez Obradorcalled for a referendum–scheduled for March 2022– on whether he should remain in office for the rest of the term. He will more than likely win given his approval rating that hoversaround 60 percent.

I’ll also be keeping an eye on the six gubernatorial races in June 2022, and Lopez Obrador’s allies who are already vying for the presidential candidacy for the 2024 elections. And let’s not forget that our ownmidterm elections in the U.S. are right around the corner, which will likely make any major activity or movement on the bilateral relationship difficult next year.

On U.S.-Mexico relations, the Biden administration appears to have advanced its objective tore-institutionalize the relationshipon trade,migration, and security. During its first eleven months in office, the administration re-startedhigh-level dialoguesand theThree Amigos Summit, which had been stalled during the prior U.S. administration. This week, the two governments met to present the work plans forthe High-Level Economic Dialogueand thenewU.S.-Mexico Bicentennial Framework for Security, Public Health, and Safe Communities.

In the new year, I’ll continue to work side-by-side with my colleagues here atWhite & Case Mexico City. As always, we will focus on monitoring developments in Mexico in order to offer our clients the best insights, and legal representation.

As we approach 2022, I wish you all a safe, healthy, and happy holiday season and a prosperous new year.

I hope you’ll reach out to me in the new year to catch up and talk Mexico. As always, I encourage you to stay in touch viaFacebook,Twitter, orLinkedIn.


Antonio Garza

Editor’s Note: The above guest column was penned by former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, Antonio Garza. The column first appeared in Ambassador Garza’s electronic newsletter. It appears in The Rio Grande Guardian International News Service with the permission of the author. Ambassador Garza can be reached by email via: [email protected]

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