Published on Friday 23rd August 2019
Is your country a member of the WTO or is it currently negotiating its accession?
Mexico, a member of the WTO, has mainly developed its trade and investment regime through the negotiation of bilateral investment agreements. However, Mexico strongly believes that a multilateral trading system is the main instrument for the liberalisation of world trade.
Is your country a participant of the WTO’s Information Technology Agreement (ITA) or seeking to adhere to it? If your country is a participant of the ITA, is your country among those members that concluded an expansion of the ITA at the December 2015 Nairobi Ministerial Conference?
Mexico is not currently a party to the WTO’s ITA and there is no strong evidence suggesting that it is seeking to join. This is a particular situation, since Mexico is the only non-ITA member in the top 30 ITA exporters (ranking within the top 10 in recent years).
Notwithstanding the foregoing, since Mexico is a WTO member, it exporters benefit from the most favoured nation nature of the agreement.
On the import side, Mexico has eliminated duties on a wide variety of imports, providing a competitive price advantage to Mexico exporters and producers.
Is your country a participant in the WTO’s Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) or does it have the formal status of observer of the GPA, seeking to adhere to it?
Mexico is not currently a participant or an observer of the WTO’s GPA and there is no evidence suggesting that it is seeking to adhere.
Has your country already ratified the Trade Facilitation Agreement? What are the benefits that you expect to flow from this new agreement for businesses from your country?
Mexico accepted the Agreement on 26 July 2016. Historically, Mexico has been very respectful of its international trade commitments, so we would expect a complete implementation on the substantive commitments of the TFA, specially for purposes of expediting the movement, release and clearance of goods including goods in transit; effective cooperation between customs and other authorities involved in this process and; technical assistance. We also expect a reduction in trade costs as a result of the implementation of such commitments, and consequently a boost in trade.
Ideally, for Mexico it would also represent a reduction in the administrative constraints, transparency of laws, rules and procedures, as well as fairness in border agency decisions, which represent a significant area of opportunity for this country.
Please provide a brief description of the customs duty structure maintained by your country. To what extent is it similar to, or has it been influenced by, that of your main trading partners?
The duty tariffs applied by Mexico are contained in the General Import and Export Duty Act (LIGIE), which is based on the Harmonised Commodity Description and Coding System (HS) and has been amended more than 15 times. These tariffs contain more than 12,000 eight-digit headings.
More than 99 per cent of all the tariff headings applied by Mexico in its tariff are ad valorem; the rest of the tariffs are specific or compound.
There was a unilateral tariff reduction programme of five years ending in 2013, significantly reducing duties on most of the categories.
The duty rates range from zero per cent to 254 per cent, and the highest average duty rates are imposed on confectionery and sugar, followed by animals and animal products, coffee, tea, clothing, fish and fish products.
In general, the customs system has a very significant influence from its main trading partner, the US, and, of course, the WTO; however, many of its main features were originally developed by Mexico, including different regimes to import goods on temporary basis for production of export finished goods.
Does your country maintain an import licensing regime?
Mexico publishes in the Federal Official Gazette, a list of goods subject to previous import permits. Also, these permits may apply to certain goods listed under particular trade agreements executed by Mexico.
The Mexican Foreign Trade Law and its Regulation, which have been amended from time to time to be in compliance with WTO principles and agreements, governs the application of import restrictions and prohibitions. The President is the competent authority to determine the non-tariff measures required to restrict or regulate the export, import or transit of goods in Mexico. Usually these resolutions are sent for prior revision to the Foreign Trade Commission in Mexico, and subsequently issued by the Ministry of Economy or the relevant Secretariat and published in the Federal Official Gazette.
Justified reasons for imposing this type of measures (which are WTO compliant) consist of: (i) imbalances in the balance of payments; (ii) maintain control on used goods or wastes; (iii) answer to restrictions on Mexican exports; (iv) provisions of free trade agreements (FTAs); (v) national security, public health or environmental reasons and; (vi) avoiding the inflow of goods subject to unfair trade practices.
The non-tariff restrictions may be imposed in the form of permits, countervailing duties, limited quotas, among others.
Some groups of products subject to previous import permits consist of used tyres and clothing, petroleum products, vehicles, diamonds and some specialised equipment.
Any individual or entity intending to import goods into Mexico must obtain a National Importers record, and a tax identification number from the internal revenue authorities of Mexico.
Finally, with the objective of modernising the customs procedures in Mexico, the Mexican government has launched a new tool known as the Foreign Trade Single Counter, which will allow companies to comply with all their foreign trade obligations by transferring electronic information to a single website. The main purpose of the Foreign Trade Sole Counter is to simplify, standardise and automate all customs procedures in one.
As a result thereof, the flow of information between private entities and the government will be significantly more expeditious and simple, and the duration of the customs formalities will be considerably reduced.
In addition to simplifying all the import and export submissions, this Foreign Trade Single Counter will also serve to comply with non-tariff restrictions, carry out notifications related to the submissions of the company and to carry out electronic payment of duties and taxes.
Please explain the export control regime in place in your jurisdiction, including whether it applies to dual-use items.
The export requirements in Mexico may be summarised as follows: all exporters shall file export pedimentos or manifests by using an in-house or customs broker. The exporter of record shall attach to its declaration the commercial invoice of goods and evidence of compliance with non-tariff restrictions on exports (which are significantly few than import requirements).
Certain listed products shall also be recorded before the Specific Exporters Registry (alcoholic beverages, tobacco, cigars among others). Most of these products are also subject to the special tax on production and services.
An export prior permit is only required to specific products such as petroleum goods and rough diamonds.
Fewer than 30 tariff classifications are subject to the payment of duties.
Many foreign investors benefit from the IMMEX programme, the purpose of which is to allow the temporary importation of raw materials and assets into Mexico, to repair or transform goods that are subsequently exported. The importation of raw materials and assets is exempted from the payment of VAT, and the raw materials are exempted from the payment of duties. This mechanism allows foreign investors to manufacture their products in Mexico by benefiting from the excellent and low-cost labour and the expanded network of FTAs executed by Mexico.
Dual use items may be subject to a restriction exemption, provided that specific conditions and non-tariff restrictions are met to assure the improper use of said goods. The restrictions are different depending on the sector.
Has your country ever renegotiated its scheduled concessions under GATT article XXVIII? If so, could you please provide details?
Indeed, specifically under article XXVIII: 5. The products subject to this renegotiation were newsprint and the approximate yearly value of trade involved was US$17 million.
Has your country been involved in any WTO disputes either as a complainant, defendant or third party? Please highlight the most prominent instances of such participation.
Mexico has been involved in 23 cases as claimant and 14 as respondent. Also, it has been involved in 63 cases as third party.
How would you evaluate the compliance record of your country with WTO dispute settlement reports? To the extent that you identify a track record of delayed or incomplete implementation, what are the main factors explaining this feature?
Mexico has a very acceptable compliance record with WTO dispute settlement reports.
An isolated example of a claim against Mexico on its WTO settlement reports was where members noted the persistence of some non-tariff barriers to trade and encouraged Mexico to remove reference prices and simplify its system of SPS measures. Mexico replied that these references were only applied to used cars and were compatible with WTO rules.
Please explain the main procedural steps, under your domestic law, on anti-dumping, countervailing and safeguard duty investigations? Which are the competent investigating authorities? Are there any appeals and review procedures in place?
The International Trade Practices Unit of the Ministry of Economy (UPCI), is the administrative unit responsible for carrying out the investigation procedure against unfair trade practices in their mode of price discrimination or dumping. This procedure is regulated by the Agreement on Implementation of srticle VI of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994 (ADA or AAD), the Foreign Trade Law (FTL) and its Regulations (RCFT).
The UPCI determines in a single investigating both dumping and subsidy determinations and material injury determinations.
Dumping and countervailing investigations
Are you aware of any ongoing or planned revisions of the rules on anti-dumping, countervailing and safeguard duty investigations in your jurisdiction?
We do not expect a revision in the short term. Some proposals have been made, however, no serious considerations have been given by the Federal Congress.
What are the main agricultural subsidies maintained by your country? Are they in the process of being phased out?
In recent years, the main agricultural subsidies maintained by Mexico are:
Contrary to the general belief in Mexico, the subsidies granted by its main commercial partners are similar to those granted by Mexico in this case, the United States and Canada. The levels of agricultural subsidies are just inferior to countries such as Japan and the European Union.
As a condition to phase out its agricultural subsidies, Mexico has requested to developed countries to reduce theirs to avoid market distortions. A clear claim on this sense took place in the Fifth Ministerial Meeting of WTO that took place in Cancún, Quintana Roo, in September 2003. In this meeting, Brazil also supported Mexico’s claim.
Has your country ever been involved in a WTO dispute on one or more of the three types of trade remedies? Do you anticipate any forthcoming legal action before the WTO involving your country either as a defendant or complainant?
Mexico has been involved in 23 cases as claimant and 14 as respondent. Also, it has been involved in 63 cases as third party.
We do not expect any respective legal action anytime soon; however, there is still an important case in Mexico. This hot topic is the settlement dispute requested to the WTO by Mexico, after bilateral discussions failed to reach a deal last year. This dispute settlement is recorded under number DS451 and related to measures regarding to the production and exportation of apparel and textile products by China.
Mexico has claimed that China maintains different measures (tax exemptions, duty and VAT reduction on the purchase of equipment contingent to export, cash payments among others) to support producers and exporters of apparel and textile products and suppliers in the cotton and chemical fibres industries.
Mexico is supporting this case on inconsistencies to the Agreement on Agriculture, SCM agreement, China’s Accession Protocol and different articles of GATT.
This case is at the consultation stage.
Which are the bilateral trade agreements your country is currently a party to or which it is in the process of negotiating?
NAFTA (US and Canada); Costa Rica; Colombia; Bolivia (was recently terminated); Nicaragua; Chile; European Union; Israel; North Triangle (Salvador, Guatemala Honduras); European Association (Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, Liechtenstein); Uruguay; Japan; Peru.
Recently the Mexican government has expressed that it feels comfortable with the number of trade agreements signed by Mexico. Consequently, the government has decided to suspend negotiations with other countries such as Argentina, Panama, Korea, New Zealand, Singapore and Australia, to focus instead on the development of those agreements already signed.
Still, since 8 October 2012, Mexico is formally participating in the ambitious multilateral negotiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), whose main objectives are to improve the progressive liberalisation of the trade of goods and services, accelerate supply chains, reduce cost of doing business and reinforce regulatory cooperation. The main advantage of the TPP for Mexico would be access to the Asian market.
Also, in 2011 Mexico reached an agreement with Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua to integrate into one instrument the three agreements entered between the parties, to facilitate the commercial integration of the region.
To what extent do you expect that Brexit would affect trade between your country and the United Kingdom and the European Union? Are there any plans for your country to negotiate a bilateral trade agreement with the UK?
The UK and Mexico have expressed their intent and have even began informal conversations to negotiate a bilateral trade agreement with the UK if Brexit occurs. It has been discussed that the terms of said agreement would be exactly the same as the FTA with the European Union. It is, however, difficult to predict the real impact until we learn whether the UK will be able to sign FTAs with the US and the European Union.
Can you see any conflicting rights or obligations between the bilateral or regional trade agreements your country is a member to and its rights and obligations under WTO law? If yes, what is your assessment of how such conflicts are or should be resolved?
The main conflict relates to the resolution of disputes mechanisms. Some of the main bilateral or regional trade agreements of which Mexico is a member, contain a mechanism of dispute resolution that may be in conflict with the mechanisms established by WTO law. We can get to a point where contradictory resolutions are issued, generating uncertainty on the parties. In my opinion, a provision of forum exclusion should be included in all the bilateral/regional agreements to avoid contradictions and weakening of the multilateral system.
Is your country party to any regional trade agreements or in the process of negotiating its accession to one?
Indeed, Mexico is part of the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) along with Canada and the US (USMCA will substitute NAFTA is it is ratified by the three countries). It also has regional agreements with the Central America region.
Since 8 October 2012, Mexico is formally participating in the ambitious multilateral negotiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), which main objectives are to improve the progressive liberalisation of the trade of goods and services, accelerate the supply chains, reduce cost of doing business and reinforce the regulatory cooperation. The main advantage of the TPP for Mexico, would be the access to the Asian Market.
If your country is a signatory to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), has your country ratified, and, if not, when do you expect it to do so?
It is, and the Senate already ratified the Agreement in April 2018.
What are the benefits and disadvantages that you expect to flow from the future entry into force of the CPTPP for businesses from your country?
Mexico has a very good competitive perspective as the second-largest economy in Latin America and an established manufacturing centre. Mexico is already the world’s biggest producer of flat-screen televisions and a major car producer with a fast-growing aerospace industry. The expectation that Mexico would become even more attractive as an investment destination as a result of the CPTPP is now reduced, since the platform for exports will not improve as a result of the implementation of the aforesaid Agreement; however, the USMCA could boost Mexico's potential. On the other hand, the automotive parts industry had expressed concerns in relation to a possible change in the current growing trend it has been enjoying in Mexico as a result of the enactment of the CPTPP, but this is no longer as a result of the new status of the CPTPP. On different occasions, this industry expressed that different analysis made by this industry showed that Mexico had to be careful and continue to be more competitive every year to avoid a negative impact in the near future.
Another downside of the CPTPP was that multinational companies with global supply chains were expected to benefit more than medium and small domestic companies, unless the latter significantly increased their competitiveness, which implied new investments for these companies and production of more value-added goods to be able to compete and benefit from the CPTPP.
Mexico considers as positive the potential incorporation of the US to the CPTTP, provided that it adheres to the terms and conditions already negotiated by the parties instead of trying to open a new round of negotiations.
If your country is not a member of the CPTPP, do you expect any trade currently enjoyed by your industries to be negatively impacted by increased trade in those products among members of the CPTPP?
As described above, Mexico has already ratified the Agreement.
Does your jurisdiction benefit from the Generalised System of Preferences maintained by the European Union and the United States and other developed economies? Does your jurisdiction maintain a similar system with respect to third countries?
While Mexico does not maintain a similar system with respect to third countries, to promote economic growth in the developing world by providing preferential duty-free entry to certain products, it has received very limited benefits from the GSP maintained by the EU and the US. Just as a reference, it is important to mention that Mexico is not among the top 20 countries receiving benefits from the GSP.
Has the bilateral trading relationship between your country and the United States been affected by the policies of the current administration in the United States? If so, which sectors have been particularly affected and why?
There is some degree of uncertainty as from time to time the United States government has decided to implement measures restricting trade between the two countries without prior notice.
Still, as difficult as the trade relation has been in recent years between Mexico and the United States, significant progress has been made, as a new FTA for the region was signed, an agreement on immigration was reached and it seems to be the most stable moment for the trade relation between Mexico and the United States during the Trump administration.
Although the USMCA still must be signed, ratified and passed by the three countries before it can go into effect on 1 January 2020, as expected, its text has produced clarity and stability.
The is one specific sector that will have significant impact as a result of the enactment of the USMCA, the automotive and auto parts industry. Following we address the main modifications for this industry.
Other than the fact that these three countries continue to be part of a trilateral trade agreement, and that USMCA continues to use the system of specific rules of origin for the automotive and the auto parts industry, the automotive and auto parts trade provisions have been significantly impacted as follows.
Regional value content (RVC)
a. Core parts (engine, transmission, body and chassis, axle, suspension, steering, advanced batteries): 75 per cent RVC. There will be a transition period of three to five years. Must be originating for the vehicle to be originating.
b. Principal parts (tyres, glass, pumps and compressors, A/C, bearings and bearing housings, electric motors used as primary source of propulsion, electric motors for electrical variable transmission, electromagnets, starter motors and generators, bumpers, safety belts, brakes, road wheels, radiators, mufflers, clutches, airbags, seats and parts of seats): 65 per cent RVC.
c. Complementary parts: (pipes, catalytic converters, valves, taps and cocks, electric motors and universal AC/DC motors not exceeding 37.5W, DC motors and generators not exceeding 750W, other batteries, distributors and ignition coils, electrical lighting, windshield wipers/defrosters, sound recording/reproducing apparatus, switches, insulating wiring sets, headlamps, electronic instruments and measurement equipment): 65 per cent RVC.
Labour Value Content Requirement (LVC)
Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962
Mexico and Canada also negotiated side agreements (letters), which mostly exempt light vehicle and auto parts exports to the United States from potential national security tariffs under section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962.
Consequently, each of these countries can send up to 2.6 million passenger vehicles per year, as well as unlimited number of light trucks. US$32.4B (for Canada) and $108B (for Mexico) in parts will be exempt from any US imposed section 232 tariff on imported vehicles or parts.
Mexico, additionally negotiated provisions exempting non-USMCA automotive exports from potential increases in the (MFN) rates of the United States. As a result thereof, 1.6 million units (vehicles), which are non-USMCA originating under the new scheme, will be grandfathered in at the current 2.5 per cent tariff rate for passenger cars and automotive parts and 25 per cent tariff rate for pickup trucks and cargo vehicles.
Currently, based on calculations by the Mexican government, approximately 780,000 vehicles (32 per cent of Mexico’s current vehicle output, which is below the 1.6 million cap) are not originating under the new USMCA Rules of Origin.
As a result of the new scheme of automotive trade in the North America region, we would expect automakers and suppliers to move more work to this region. Additionally, for some sectors in the industry such as light vehicles and automotive parts, we foresee a rise in productions costs, which would eventually result in an increase in consumer prices.
To what extent has your country been affected by the United States’ decision, in March 2018, to impose tariffs on steel and aluminium? Has your country negotiated with the US government to obtain an exemption from the tariffs or to implement a quota on exports?
The position of Mexico in connection to this situation, is that there is no justification under the national security argument for the US to impose these trade measures, thus, Mexico will start a dispute settlement process at the WTO over said US tariffs on steel and aluminum.
Additionally, Mexico issued a retaliatory Decree with the following measures:
It means that if companies import any of the goods listed therein (article 1) on permanent basis and said goods are US originating, they cannot longer apply the NAFTA preferential duty rates exclusively for such goods.
Companies also prevented by this Decree to apply the preferential duty rates set forth by the Mexican Promotion Sectorial Programs (PROSEC), for these specific goods. PROSEC is an additional option to apply a preferential duty rate (usually ranging from zero per cent to 5 per cent) for IMMEX companies holding said authorisation.
The “Retaliation Decree”, expressly states that the aforesaid provisions are exclusively applicable to imports on permanent basis, in other words, companies may continue importing these goods under the IMMEX program on temporary basis, and avoid any payment of the new tariffs, provided that said goods are exported/returned abroad. This exception may sound contradictory, however, Mexico deliberately decided to exempt these operations to avoid affecting the competitiveness of the export sector in this country.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, if the goods are originating from a country having a free trade agreement with Mexico, said preferential treatment can be applied by IMMEX companies (including NAFTA as most of these goods are not part of the retaliation goods); however, the company must be cautious with the analysis as some of the goods contained in the list of article 3 are also listed for purposes of articles 1 and 2 analysed above (ie, 7208.10.02), in which case, if the origin of the goods is the US, the NAFTA preferential treatment cannot be applied as it has been cancelled for the 71 tariff codes covered by article 1 and article 2 of the retaliation decree.
The preferential duty rates set forth by PROSEC can also be applied to the import of goods covered by this list, if convenient for companies, as no provisions in this Decree exclude such benefit.
Finally, the IMMEX scheme is also not affected in this case.
What is the position of your country as well as that of businesses from your country on the long-standing debate on currency manipulation? Are you aware of any legislative proposals in your country similar to those in the US to address the issue via unilateral trade remedies? Do you believe that this is an issue the WTO should become more actively engaged in?
There is no current specific legislation; however, Mexico has made clear statements that the country is absolutely not joining the currency manipulation trend.
How are trademarks and geographical indications protected in your jurisdiction? What are the main steps for registration of trademarks and geographical indications? Has the protection of trademarks and geographical indications in your jurisdiction changed since the WTO came into being?
The system was significantly improved as a result of WTO regulation.
Trademarks in Mexico must be registered before the Mexican Intellectual Property Institute to be protected against third parties. A registered trademark in Mexico has a term of 10 years, which may be renewed an unlimited number of times for succeeding 10-year terms. Mexico is a signatory to the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, which provides that a trademark application filed with a member country within six months of filing an application with another member country will have the priority date of the first application.
On 25 April 2012, the Mexican Senate approved the accession to the Madrid Protocol.
Mexico has been a party to the Lisbon Agreement since 25 September 1966. The definition of geographical indication in Mexican Industrial Property Law is based on the definition established in the Lisbon Agreement.
The international protection of geographical indications has also been obtained in trade agreements such as the Agreement on the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights of the World Trade Organization, which Mexico entered into force in Mexico on 1 January 2000. IMPI shall declare the protection of an appellation of origin ex officio or at the request of a party demonstrating legal interest.
Once an application has been filed and complies with all requirements established by Law, the IMPI publishes an extract of the application in the Official Federation Gazette and a period of two months is granted, starting from the publication date, for any third party with legal interest to make observations or raise objections.
The parties shall submit their means of evidence before the IMPI and the IMPI is bound to make its resolution. If the resolution in question grants protection the IMPI publishes it in the Official Federation Gazette. The validity of the declaration of protection is determined by the continuing existence of the conditions that gave rise to it. The terms of the declaration of protection for an appellation of origin may be amended at any time, ex officio or upon request of an interested party.
How are other intellectual property rights enforced in your jurisdiction?
There are administrative and judicial authorities with all legal capacity to effectively enforce property rights.
Through the initiation of administrative procedures, the competent administrative authorities may impose all kind of sanctions and preventive measures such as fines, seizure and closure of business facilities, among others. Entities or individuals may set off the initiation of these procedures.
Also, the federal courts are involved in resolving claims on administrative procedures involving property rights or to solve disputes in this area of law.
Has your country ever imposed restrictions on trade in services or trade in goods due to balance-of-payments and external financial difficulties? Please explain the related provisions under domestic law.
To this date these reasons have not been argued by Mexico to impose restrictions on trade of services or goods.
What is your country's position on the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank? Are there any plans, promoted by your country or by businesses from your country, to participate in a similar initiative for Latin America?
It does not seem as if Mexico is currently planning on joining the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank proposed by China or a similar initiative. The main reason is the second component requiring countries to lend. Mexico may not be in the best position to lend at this point.