Thursday 19 January 2017 6:13 pm

Diplomats rush drilling rights agreement before Donald dunks the "doughnut" deal

Twenty-four hours to go and the United States, Mexico and Cuba need to decide what to do with the “Doughnut hole” –an area in the Gulf of Mexico where technically they all share the right to drill for oil.

Three diplomatic figures familiar with issue told Reuters there was a race to jam an agreement in before Trump’s inauguration. An unnamed official told Reuters they had hoped to have the agreement finished before the inauguration. 

Oil and gas abound in the disputed area of the Gulf of Mexico that falls with in 200 miles from each country’s shore. Mexico has a cross-border deal with the US but Cuba does not.

Read more: Is Donald Trump right that Nato is obsolete?

The fledgling relationship between Cuba and the US hangs under the threat of termination from Donald Trump who said he would cut relations if Cuba didn’t get its people and Cuban Americans a “better deal”.

Charles Roh, a former State Department lawyer and the Deputy Chief Negotiator for the NAFTA trade agreement says these negotiations sound a lot like the Iranian nuclear weapons deal.

The agreement would be classed as an executive agreement.

Roh distinguishes between a US law treaty which would take a 2/3 vote in the Senate to pass and an executive agreement which is one that the president has bestowed upon people negotiate for him.

It carries the power of the president and is binding. Otherwise, Roh says why wouldn’t all agreements made with the United States would change every four years.

Another point Roh raises about executive agreements is that the people acting on behalf of Obama won’t be in a job after tomorrow.

The rush to finish the deal, according to Roh is probably “not because there are trying to shove something down Donald Trump’s throat. Its will be because the people negotiating will be changing jobs as the administration changes”.

When Donald Trump assumes the presidency, it will take a very long time to replace these people and Roh says that “like a lot of campaign fodder, things change a lot when you are in charge. If it makes sense they may just fly with it”.

Although Roh says, “there is always the Trump risk. It’s never clear when he’ll take a different tack”.