Our third chapter of Doing Business in Mexico, International Trade, will provide a general overview of ton Mexican International Trade Policy considering international context, as well as customs aspects.
This chapter includes the following sections:
As a member of international organizations and Free Trade Agreements, Mexico has, to a certain extent, a predictable trade and customs policy. Mexican laws on customs and trade are normally compatible with international rules. The President and his ministers are not only in charge to apply these laws, but they also have powers to regulate international trade and customs, including emergency actions.
Since the inception of the World Trade Organization and the North American Free Trade Agreement, Mexico’s trade and customs legal framework has not been subject to a substantial overhaul; seldom reforms particularly to the customs law have occurred from time to time.
However, Mexico is currently embracing modern free trade agreements, such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Transpacific Partnership (CPTPP) or USMCA, that have and will bring certain legal changes in intellectual property, de minimis, e-commerce, etc.
Needless to say, trade and customs programs or regulations are subject to frequent changes that seek to adapt to new trends, risks, or policy objectives. Mexico has in place, for instance, duty deferral and tariff reduction programs that allow manufacturing or export-oriented industries to be more competitive. However, such programs are subject to strict government controls.
Mexico is a party to the World Customs Organization and to the International Convention on the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HS Convention).
As a result of the sixth amendment to the HS, Mexican congress discussed a new law that replaced its General Import and Export Tariff Act (LIGIE, acronym in Spanish), i.e. Mexico’s Harmonized Tariff Schedule. The Ministry of Economy conducted an exhaustive review and proposed to compact or unfold tariff items for statistical purposes into 10 digits that will be called Commercial Identification Number, instead of an 8 digit tariff item (known as fracción arancelaria). The new General Import and Export Tariff Act was published on July 1, 2020.
Mexico’s average WTO bound tariff is 35%, and duties rates vary from 0% to 100%. According to Mexico’s most recent Trade Policy Review (2017), the average MFN tariff on agricultural and non-agricultural products was 14.3% and 4.6%, respectively. The General Import and Export Tariff Act establishes the import tariff or “General Import Tax” (Impuesto General de Importación, or IGI) as well as the export tariff “General Export Tax” (Impuesto General de Exportación, or IGE).
Mexico has an extensive network of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with 50 countries and is also a party to regional agreements within the framework of the Latin American Integration Association (ALADI).
The main FTAs and trade agreements to which Mexico is currently a party are as follows:
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Long before NAFTA came into existence, Mexico had into effect duty deferral policies that allowed manufacturing companies, known as maquiladoras, to import goods, such as raw materials, parts, containers, etc., without paying import duties. The maquiladoras had to use said imported goods in the production of exported manufactured goods and, in turn, they could temporally import said goods and defer customs duties.
Eventually, NAFTA introduced drawback provisions to promote the use of regional goods and “to reduce the incentive for third countries to use a NAFTA country as an ‘export platform.” Article 303 NAFTA, replicated in article 2.5 USMCA, introduced a general prohibition on refunding or exempting customs duties owed on non-originating goods imported into the territory of a party.
In essence, these provisions have as a purpose to avoid double ‘taxation’ on non-originating materials that are used as an input in the production of a finished good subsequently exported to another NAFTA or USMCA party.
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Mexico in WEF
From 22 to 25th of January the World Economic Forum (WEF) was held, and this year’s topic was “Globalization 4.0: Shaping a Global Architecture in the age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution”.
Underminister of International Trade, Luz María de la Mora, attended WEF to inform the economic policies of the new government.
The Underminister mentioned that the policy is based on three pillars: innovation, inclusion, and diversificación. These “pillars” are yet to be explained clearly, which will most likely be addressed in the National Development Plan.
In an interview, the Underminister mentioned that the update of the Free Trade Agreement between Mexico and the European Union is still subject to a legal review of the text and it could be signed on April.
Regarding USMCA, she said that the government is expecting that it should be ratified this year notwithstanding the internal politics in the US and the measures against steel and aluminum products.
SAM: Saving Agri-food producers?
Last Friday a decentralized governmental body was created “Mexican Food Security” (SAM, acronym in Spanish), which has as a purpose to support the federal government with its agricultural policy.
The new president, AMLO, promised to “rescue” this sector, in particular, the small and medium producers of “basic” agricultural producers and milk. SAM’s numerous purposes are, among others, “coordinate the purchase” of said products at “support prices”, “promote the commercialization of excess production to foreign markets”, “sale and distribute fertilizers, improved seeds…”.
Some of SAM’s activities will likely classify as a “subsidy” pursuant WTO Law and, if international trade is distorted, countries can submit claims or initiate trade remedies measures like countervailing duties, as happened with the Mexican sugar in the USA.
Download our Newsletter: Mexico in WEF and SAM – Trading Room
Today, August 2, 2017, the Senate released a document entitled “Notice regarding the Initiation of the Negotiations regarding NAFTA’s modernization” that was provided by the Ministry of Economy. In said document, the Ministry of Economy explained the reasons why it should participate in the renegotiation. We highlight the following statements:
Furthermore, the Ministry of Economy also published Mexico’s priorities in NAFTA’s negotiation. In harmony with recent statements from the Mexican Minister of Economy, the document does not specify specific objectives. However, it is mentioned that Mexico has the following priorities: 1. Strengthening the competitiveness of the region, 2. An Inclusive and Responsible Regional Trade, 3. Reap the Benefits of the XXI century economy, and 4. Foster Security and Predictability in North American Trade & Investment.
In that sense, if NAFTA is modernized it should create the following benefits:
In conclusion, the Ministry of Economy stated that the objective is to have an expedite negotiation process and maintain Mexico’s benefits.
antidumping, Chapter 11 NAFTA, Chapter 19 NAFTA, Chapter 20 NAFTA, Energy, Free Trade Agreement, Mexican Ministry of Economy, Mexico, NAFTA, NAFTA negotiation, negotiation, Objectives, Priorities, Rules of Origins, United States, USA