Jul 17, 1986


GENEVA, JULY 15 (IFDA-CHAKRAVARTHI RAGHAVAN) – The GATT Council Tuesday adopted the report of a working party on the terms for the accession of Mexico to the general agreement on tariffs and trade.

The issue will now go to a vote by postal ballot of the Contracting Parties to GATT, and after two-thirds of the GATT CPS vote affirmatively, Mexico would be entitled to sign the protocol of accession. It would become a Contracting Party to GATT 30 days after signing the protocol.

At the GATT Council Tuesday, after the adoption of the report of the working party, some 30 countries spoke warmly welcoming Mexico’s accession, the GATT spokesman said.

The U.S. delegate, Amb. Michael Samuels viewed Mexico’s accession as opening a new chapter in U.S.-Mexican trade relations.

Next to Canada, Mexico is the largest trading partner of the United States.

According to the latest available Mexican data, en 1984 Mexico imported about 11 billion dollar worth of goods and exported a little over 24 billion.

Mexico ranks 33rd in the world in its imports and 19th in its exports.

Luis Bravo, Mexico’s Under-secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Trade, welcomed the action of the CPS in accepting Mexico, and noted that Mexico would be treated as a "developing country" and thus entitled to the special and differential treatment provisions of the GATT.

Under the terms of the protocol of accession, and the schedule of tariff concessions annexed to it, Mexico has agreed "to bind" its tariff duties at a maximum rate of 50 percent, including on agricultural and industrial products.

Mexico has reserved its rights, "in exceptional cases", to levy a surcharge on the 50 percent rate, up to an amount equal to half of the applicable general duty.

These surcharges would be gradually reduced.

After December 31, 1994, Mexico has said, these surcharges would not be levied in a manner that, together with the base duty, entail a total charge of more than 50 percent.

Apart from this binding of general duties, "as a part of its contribution to GATT upon accession", Mexico has also negotiated and appended in a annex, specific tariff concessions on some 374 individual listed products.

Over and above its general import duty and surcharges, Mexico also levies certain additional charges – including a 2.5 percent charge, a three percent additional duty and a ten percent additional duty – described by Mexico as "user charges".

These would not be affected by Mexico’s binding its tariffs.

Mexico would also eliminate by end of 1987, its current practice of an "official import price" for customs valuation purposes, and bring all customs valuation procedures for imported goods into conformity with the general agreement.

The protocol of accession takes note of Mexico’s present status as "a developing country", and its intention to implement its national development plan and its sectoral and regional programmes, and its intention to exercise sovereignty over its natural resources.

However, the report of the working party suggests that these would not provide Mexico any additional benefits, other than those enjoyed by other "developing countries" for special and differential treatment, or for special exemptions from GATT obligations other than those envisaged in the articles of the general agreement itself.

In explaining the Mexican request for references to its special status as a "developing country", and even in the absence of which Mexico would be entitled to the same treatment as for other "developing CPS", the Mexican delegate told the working party: "Mexico’s public opinion which was not well acquainted with all the fine points of GATT practices had insisted on the need to include such a provision".

The sectoral development programmes envisaged by Mexico, and to which the protocol of accession makes a reference, relate to petrochemicals, electronics, textiles, footwear, capital goods, pulp and paper, foodstuffs, iron and steel, and electrical household goods.

Mexico’s trade policy regime provides for use of tariffs, import permits, quotas, export incentives, bilateral and multilateral trade negotiations, to promote its national development plan and the sectoral programmes.

Mexico also has advised the other GATT CPS in the working party that after accession to GATT, it intends to accede to a number of GATT codes – on licensing procedures, anti-dumping, standards and customs valuation.

While Mexico has also said that it would "negotiate, accession to the GATT code on subsidies and countervailing duties, the spokesman of the informal group of third world countries in the working party advised that "there was no need for Mexico to negotiate its accession to the code, since it is open for acceptance by all CPS without any preconditions".