With the United Kingdom´s (UK) withdrawal from the European Union (EU), a new trade agreement was necessary between Mexico and the UK to maintain preferential tariffs and market access.
For this reason, in December 2020, the Trade Continuity Agreement between Mexico and the UK was signed, as well as the Agreement related to Article 12 of the Trade Continuity Agreement between Mexico and the UK. Both agreements are aimed at maintaining and expanding preferential market access between the two countries.
As mentioned in our Legal Alert of April 30, the Trade Continuity Agreement had to be published in the Official Gazette of the Federation (DOF) to become legally binding in Mexico.
Today, Tuesday, June 1, 2021, the Trade Continuity Agreement was finally published, entering into force on such date. The following decrees were published in the DOF:
In addition, the Mexican Ministry of Treasury also issued the Resolution that establishes the General Rules related to the application of the customs provisions of the Continuity of Trade Agreement between Mexico and the UK.
In this regard, Rules 2.2.2 and 2.2.3. provide the mechanism for the refund or compensation of duties paid by importers of goods that qualified as originating in the UK and were imported into Mexico as of January 1, 2021; as noted, this is the date that the UK’s exit from the European Union became effective, and prior to the entry into force of the Trade Continuity Agreement in Mexico.
In addition to the publication of the aforementioned decrees, the following five instruments necessary to guarantee preferential access for products between Mexico and the UK were published in the DOF:
The purpose of these instruments is to provide the necessary information to economic operators in Mexico regarding the requirements to access the preferential quotas provided in the Continuity Agreement.
The Trade Continuity Agreement establishes that Mexico and the UK will begin negotiations for an ambitious, modern and comprehensive free trade agreement as soon as there is an opportunity and within one year of the entry into force of this Agreement. In other words, before June 1, 2022, both countries commit to start negotiations for a free trade agreement that will seek to strengthen and expand preferential access between both markets.
Finally, both countries commit to make every effort to conclude the negotiations of the free trade agreement within a period of three years from the entry into force of this Agreement, that is, before June 1, 2024.
This week in our Mexican economic newsletter, VTZ reports the fresh potato imports and the Mexican Supreme Court ruling, Mexico’s WTO proposal on the Appellate Body, and a new initiative on Cinematography and Audiovisual Services, the Outsourcing Reform, Mexican international trade statistics, and the Mexico-UK Continuity Agreement.
On 28 April, the First Chamber of the Mexican Supreme Court ruled on the potato “controversy”, which derives from an Amparo judgment that was favorable to the domestic potato producers that prevented the importation of fresh potatoes from the United States
The Amparo judgment was challenged by Mexican President in 2017 since a Judge declared that phytosanitary measures provided in the Regulations of the Federal Plant Health Law (RLFSV) were unconstitutional.
In its ruling, the Supreme Court unanimously overturned the Amparo judgment and declared constitutional the provisions of the RLFSV and the phytosanitary measures. The ruling will allow the importation of fresh potato from the United States.
However, the injunction issued by the Judge still remains in force as long as the Supreme Court “notifies” its rulings. In other words, the potato imports are not yet imminent.
To find out all the details of the case, our partner Emilio Arteaga prepared a podcast episode “The Potato Case: Foreign Trade in the Supreme Court” (available in Spanish).
The issuance of a new Cinematography and Auodivisual content Law is currently being discussed in the Senate. The initiative contemplates the obligation to reserve 15% of spaces in movie theaters and streaming services for domestic (Mexican) content.
Brian Pomper, executive director of the Alliance for Trade Enforcement, has already spoken out against the initiative, stating that it violates trade commitments with the U.S. and Canada. We are surprised that this potential issue was not included in the USTR’s trade barrier report.
In our opinion, this obligation may violate international commitments. For example, in the USMCA, Mexico only reserved the right to grant mandatory space to national productions of 10% for national cinema, but not for streaming services. The 15% domestic content requirement is a potential violation of the Investment, Digital Trade, and/or Cross-Border Trade in Services Chapters.
Source: El Economista.
The Covid-19 pandemic had a negative impact on the economy as it led to significant restrictions in production and mobility in Mexico and the World. According to the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI), Mexico’s GDP registered a drop of 8.2% in real terms during 2020.
Despite this, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates growth for the Mexican economy of 5% in 2021.
This can be seen in the gradual recovery of international trade figures in this quarter, particularly in March. On the one hand, Mexican exports of goods registered a year-on-year growth of 12.2%, which is the highest rate recorded since November 2018; on the other hand, imports registered a rise of 31.4% with their best performance recorded since September 2010, this figure is explained by a 24% increase on non-petroleum goods and 104% in petroleum goods.
Notwithstanding these positive results, a trade deficit was recorded, which is significant compared to the surplus in March 2020.
The Twelfth Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organisation is just around the corner, which will take place from 30 November to 3 December 2021 in Geneva, Switzerland. The Ministerial Conference is the “highest” body of the WTO, addressing the most pressing issues and a forum for trade negotiations.
As you may recall, there is currently a “crisis” in the WTO because the United States has blocked the selection of the members of the Appellate Body, which reviews the decisions of Panels. Today, the Appellate Body is inoperative and there are trade disputes whose decisions have been appealed to the “void”.
Since 11 December 2019, Mexico has submitted a proposal to request the reinstatement of the inoperative Appellate Body, as have many countries. Mexico’s proposal has so far the support of 121 member states, including the European Union and China. However, the bloc will try to gain wider adherence with the aim of pushing for change at the Ministerial Conference.
Source: El Economista.
On Friday 23 April, the Senate’s approval of the UK-Mexico Continuity of Trade Agreement was published in the Official Gazette. An important step, but not yet final, as the text of the agreement needs to be published in the Official Journal of the Federation.
VTZ prepared an alert on the trade relations between Mexico and the UK, tariff preferences, and a possible tariff refund mechanism.
Finally, the Labor Outsourcing reform was published in the Official Gazette on Friday 23 April. This reform will overhaul the Mexican labor and tax environment, and VTZ has prepared its legal alert, available here:
The head of our Chinese Desk, Susana Muñoz, address the Digitial Currency in China. This week Mexican news outlets spread incorrect information regarding the digital yuan. Download this alert here: Chinese Desk -Digital Currency
The People’s Bank of China (PBC) defined the policy priorities for 2020 during its annual conference in early January. Among other policies focused on financial innovation and openness, the PBC included boosting research and development of the digital currency. This project began to be explored in 2014 because consumers were using more and more mobile payment systems such as WeChat Pay and Alipay in retail transactions.
PBC’s data estimate that in 2018 mobile transactions reached a total of 41.5 billion dollars, and it is expected that 790 million people in China will make payments through mobile systems by the end of 2020.
In mid-April, it was announced that digital currency tests would begin in the cities of Shenzhen, Suzhou, and Chengdu, as well as in the area of Xiongan, Hebei Province. The new currency will be issued by the Central Bank to institutions and banks, who will distribute the currency to users. During the pilot phase, government officials will receive their payroll payments through this currency, which will be payable through an application that does not require the use of the internet.
It is expected that the digital yuan will gradually replace cash in circulation, allowing transactions to be documented and tracked. The Central Bank will be the only institution authorized to maintain control of data privacy and crime prevention.
Regarding its impact on the exchange rate and international trade, it is important to note that the exchange rate of the yuan is defined by the Central Bank every day and its trade is allowed in a band of 2% at the day’s midpoint rate. The exchange rate is calculated based on a basket of currencies, which includes the US dollar among other international currencies.
On the other hand, the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) is the entity that issues the regulations that govern the activities of the foreign exchange market and the management of state reserves. Thus, China does not have a foreign exchange free market, and any trade or investment operation made in a foreign currency requires an authorization or regulation that allows it.
Finally, it is expected that the transition to the digital yuan will occur gradually as there are pending challenges, such as information protection and its implementation, that will need to be resolved as the pilot program is being developed.
Today, the 13th of February, Chambers & Partners Global Guide 2020 was released and Vázquez Tercero & Zepeda appeared in Band 1 in the International Trade / WTO Law practice in Mexico. Over the past eight years, our firm has appeared in this important legal guide, consolidating itself as one of the leading law firms in international trade matters in Mexico.
The Chambers & Partners Global Guide 2020 defines our firm and team as:
“the team is known for Pace-setting player in international trade matters, routinely singled out for its anti-dumping and countervailing duties expertise. Regularly receives mandates from acclaimed clients in the metal, chemical and consumer products sectors, with particular strength in representing clients from Asian markets. NAFTA verifications of origin, customs compliance advice and representation before the Mexican tax authorities are additional areas of expertise.”
An interviewed source described Adrián Vázquez as “an expert in international law and is bright and experienced in this field.” Another source adds that “He’s always sharp and has been in the field for a long time with a steady practice.“.
As for Eduardo Zepeda, Chambers & Partners described him as a lawyer with a “solid knowledge of Mexico’s maquiladora industry, he often advises clients on the interactions between tax and customs laws in Mexico.”
(Download in PDF: Trading Room -221112019)
On Tuesday, the Decree that repeals the Declarations of all Special Economic Zones (“ZEEs”) was published in the evening edition of the Official Gazette of the Federation.
According to the Decree, one of the main reasons for ending this project is the omission of appointing the Integral Administrator, the person in charge of building and managing a Zone, due to the lack of compliance with legal requirements on behalf of the interested applicants; in addition, it was noted that the SEZ could not operate due to lack of both private and public investments.
The business sector in Mexico said it regrets the government’s decision since they were not consulted before officially ending the SEZ.
According to the Decree, the current administration will focus on the Mayan Train, the Tehuantepec Isthmus Development Program and the Northern Border Free Trade Zone Program.
In theory, a Mexican newspaper will share our Jr. Partner’s (Emilio Arteaga) thoughts in the following days regarding this decision. We will share the piece in our social media once published.
News outlets report that the points of disagreement regarding USMCA are now less between the Trump administration and the Democrats.
The president of the House of Representatives of the US Congress, Nancy Pelosi, said last week that an agreement on possible changes to the text of USMCA was imminent. However, Pelosi said during this week that there may not be enough time to close this agreement this year as there are still many legislative steps, such as the preparation of the implementing legislation and its voting.
The US Congress has only a few days of sessions left (there is the possibility of extending them) to resolve these pending issues and to approve the treaty in December. News outlets continue to highlight that the Democrats are not yet satisfied with the enforcement mechanism on the labor provisions, so it is possible that the “updated” USMCA will be approved next year in the US.
Everything seems to indicate that there will be a modification to USMCA’s text, these changes will obviously have to be approved by Mexico, possibly through amendment protocols.
El FICM es un consorcio global que cuenta con un sistema innovador en la gestión de conflictos y resolución de controversias en diversos sectores tales como medio ambiente, corporativo, infraestructura, comercial, gobierno, propiedad intelectual, entre otros.
Este consorcio cuenta con más de 600 expertos entre los que se encuentran jueces retirados, expertos en industria, mediadores y árbitros calificados, y abogados procedentes de más de 50 países.
El FICM lidera el cambio en la forma en que las disputas deben prevenirse y resolverse en el mundo moderno de hoy.
Adrián Vázquez ofrece apoyar a las personas y empresas en asuntos relacionados con temas contractuales, corporativos, asuntos industriales, infraestructura, propiedad intelectual y derechos de autor, así como propiedad. Invitamos que conozcan el perfil de Adrián Vázquez en el FICM.
(Download our newsletter in PDF: Trading Room -20190823)
In an interview, the Underminister of North American Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jesus Seade, commented on China and its “trade war” with the USA.
According to the news outlet, Mr. Seade commented that Mexico has to become more attractive for Chinese investment and that Mexico must address its trade deficit with China.
Also, we note that Chinese investment in Mexico is insignificant in comparison to foreign direct investment from other countries, e.g. the US, Japan, Korea, etc. However, Mr. Seade stressed that such situation must change and Mexico has “… to be [China’s] privileged partner in the western hemisphere, America, and Mexico has to do everything so that this can occur.”
This Wednesday, the US Department of Commerce announced a new draft agreement with Mexican tomato producers/exporters. The agreement will suspend the anti-dumping investigation and, therefore, it would avoid final antidumping duties on Mexican tomato.
Interested parties may comment on the draft suspension agreement during the next 30 days. In essence, Mexican tomato producers/exporters agreed to respect reference prices and, according to the Washington Post, 66% of tomato imports will be subject to an inspection to verify the quality of the product.
Once the suspension agreement enters into force, the US will eliminate the provisional anti-dumping duty, imposed on May 7th, 2019, and the duties paid would be returned or refunded to the Mexican tomato producers/exporters.
As previously announced, the guide Best Lawyers considered Vázquez Tercero & Zepeda as the 2019 Trade Law Firm. As a result of such great honor, Best Lawyers interviewed our managing partner, Adrian Vázquez, to have a legal insight regarding trade developments in Mexico.
Best Lawyers CEO Phillip Greer had a conversation with Adrian Vázquez, where our partner discussed a broad range of topics, from the future of international trade in Mexico, WTO disputes, why the renegotiation of NAFTA is forcing Mexico to explore new avenues for trade such as Europe and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), and the ways VTZ has innovated internally to adapt to the modern world.
We highlight Adrian’s comment when commenting on CPTPP:
Once I was talking with a U.S. trade lawyer, and he told me that TPP is all about three countries, Vietnam, Vietnam, and Vietnam. So that’s something that we should be very focused on, because Vietnam is very competitive in footwear, it’s competitive in textiles, and it’s competitive in steel. And those three are very sensitive sectors in Mexico.
I would guess that we will not be exporting textiles, footwear, or steel to Vietnam. On the contrary, we will be importing textiles, footwear, and steel from Vietnam and this will open new trade remedy cases against Vietnam. First, it was China, but Vietnam will follow.
The article is available on the following link:
(Download the PDF version of our newsletter: Trading Room)
On June 28th and 29th, the G20 summit was held in Osaka, Japan, and the Mexican President did not attend. We highlight, of course, the following three trade topics that were addressed in the “Global Economy” section of the declaration. First, the leaders of the G20 recognized the importance to maintain a stable, non-discriminatory trade and investment environment. Second, the G20 reaffirmed, as in Buenos Aires 2018, their support to reform the WTO, and its dispute settlement system. Third, G20 calls for a consensus by fall 2019 regarding the Steel Excess Capacity which is being discussed in the OECD.
In addition, this summit served as a forum so that the US and China could discuss a solution towards the ongoing trade war. In fact, the US suspended an additional tariff raise on 300 billion USD Chinese imports; currently, the US measures (i.e. 25% tariff) affect 250 billion USD of Chinese imports.
This Monday and Tuesday, Mexican Foreign Affair Minister, Marcelo Ebrard, and the State Councilor and Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, gathered to agree on a joint work plan for the next 5 years with the aim to strengthen the “Strategic Partnership”. The partnership was established in 2013 during the term of Peña Nieto.
This joint work plan aims to promote trade, mainly agricultural exports from Mexico, attract Chinese investment in sectors such as advanced manufacturing, electric mobility, e-commerce, among others. The plan also includes cooperation in education, science and technology, and cultural matters.
This Tuesday the Senate approved the Federal Austerity Law, which the Chamber of Deputies will shortly discuss and vote.
This in itself generates uncertainty because article 15 of said law prohibits foreign “delegations” (except those related to security) and that the Mexican State will be represented abroad only by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This Law may have as a consequence the closure of the Ministry of Economy’s foreign offices, which are in charge of international trade topics and represent Mexico at international organizations, such as the WTO.
If the law is passed as such, experts are worried because the members of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will absorb the tasks, and they lack experience in said topics. Will the members of the Ministry of Economy will be transferred to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs?
(Download the PDF version: Trading Room -20190614
Friday afternoon, Mexico and the US agreed on the migration crisis, an agreement that prevents, at least temporarily, the establishment of tariffs against products from Mexico. We highlight the following from the joint declaration and the press:
Now that a major hurdle was avoided, the Mexican Senate is currently holding meetings regarding USMCA ratification. The Ministry of Economy provided the final English and the preliminary Spanish text of the treaty that are available in the following link: USMCA.
According to news outlets, the Mexican Senate may ratify USMCA next week, probably Wednesday 19 of June.