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U.S. Statement at the WTO Trade Policy Review of Mexico
April 7, 2017

Trade Policy Review of Mexico
U.S. Statement as delivered by David Bisbee

April 5, 2017

Mexico is our valued neighbor and therefore Mexico’s trade regime is naturally of deep interest and importance to the United States.  Total two-way in goods and services trade between the United States and Mexico reached US$579.7 billion in 2016 – more than US$1.5 billion per day.  Mexico is currently our third largest trading partner, and our second largest market for goods exports.  According to the Secretariat report, in 2015, 81 percent of all Mexican merchandise exports went to the United States, and 47 percent of Mexican merchandise imports came from the United States.

We are pleased to note that since Mexico’s previous Trade Policy Review in 2013, the United States and Mexico have worked closely together to advance the Trade Facilitation Agreement and to address a number of noteworthy bilateral trade issues.

Since its last TPR, Mexico also has undertaken a number of historic reforms designed to boost economic growth through enhanced competition and openness to foreign investment.  The 2013 energy reform opened Mexico’s hydrocarbon and power generation sectors to foreign investment for the first time in decades, creating new opportunities for trading partners and paving the way for the modernization of both sectors.  Likewise, Mexico’s 2013-14 reforms of the telecommunications sector eliminated longstanding limitations on foreign investment, and implemented new regulations to promote greater competition.  As a result, foreign investment has increased, consumer prices have declined significantly, and the quality of service has improved.

Finally, we would highlight that in 2016, Mexico also took a positive step to improve its intellectual property rights regime with the passage of legislation establishing an opposition proceeding for trademark applications, a much-needed update to Mexico’s trademark system.

Despite these positive achievements, however, in our view, there remain areas where further improvements are necessary:

The first is in the area of intellectual property protection and enforcement.  In addition to our long-standing concerns about necessary updates to Mexico’s copyright law, needed to implement the WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty, we are also concerned that enforcement has declined recently.  Given the shared border between the United States and Mexico, we continue to believe it is important that Mexican customs officials have the authority to seize counterfeit trademark and pirated copyright goods, on their own authority, without the need for a right holder complaint – including for goods in transit. We urge Mexico to amend its customs law to enable Mexican Customs to seize shipments ex officio when they have reason to believe, or suspect, that a good is counterfeit or pirated.

Additionally, we note that in 2016, there was an increase in unlawful camcords in Mexico, which leads to the proliferation of online piracy of new release movies.  Also in 2016, there was a significant decrease in seizures, investigations, and prosecutions by Mexican law enforcement related to intellectual property offenses.  We urge Mexico to strengthen its ability to effectively enforce intellectual property rights.

We note that Mexico already has undertaken efforts to simplify customs procedures and reduce import costs, but we believe there is still scope to reduce the incidence of non-tariff border measures.  In our view, one such area is Mexico’s continued use of reference prices for used cars, footwear and certain types of apparel and textiles products.  We encourage Mexico to increase the level of transparency about how such prices are determined and applied.

As the Secretariat report notes, in 2013, Mexico resumed the system of licenses for the importation of certain goods, including steel products.  We understand that the goal of the system is to establish automatic import licensing to combat customs fraud and improve statistical monitoring of steel imports, but in the past, its implementation also has created significant delays at the border for shipments entering Mexico.  We encourage Mexico to continue its collaboration with trading partners to ensure that implementation of its import licensing system does not create unnecessary burdens or result in disruption of trade.

Finally, with the successful entry into force of the TFA this year, the United States urges Mexico to continue to fully and quickly implement this important agreement.  This includes maintaining trade facilitative procedures and measures it has currently undertaken as part of TFA implementation.

In conclusion, we commend Mexico’s strong commitment to economic and other reforms that promote open markets, transparency and social and economic stability.  We would also to take this opportunity to commend Mexico for its consistent leadership at the WTO, as overseen by a hard-working staff, and exemplified notably in the serious approach Mexico brings to the TPR process.  We look forward to continued work with Mexico, and other WTO Members, to support and strengthen our trade relations.

(end statement)