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.
Fresh Potato Imports and their Phytosanitary Restrictions Upheld by Supreme Court
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).
New Mexican Cinematography Law & USMCA
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.
Mexican Exports on the Rise
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.
Sources: El Economista, Milenio, INEGI
Mexico sets forth bloc to re-establish WTO appellate body
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.
Senate Approves the Mexico-UK Continuity Agreement
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.
Labor Outsourcing Reform
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: