MEXICAN TUBES EXPORTER SEEKS NAFTA PANEL RULING

MEXICAN TUBES EXPORTER SEEKS NAFTA PANEL RULING

A Mexican exporter of tubes for the oil industry has formally sought the creation of a panel under Chapter 19 of the North American Free Trade Agreement, Mexico's second challenge under the trade pact for findings of unfair trade.

The Mexican company Tamsa sent a request for a panel to the Nafta Secretariat in Washington on July 26. The Mexican government followed up and the Mexican section of the Nafta Secretariat is to publish the formal complaint in its federal register Diario Oficial sometime this week.Under the Nafta, exporters who feel they are unfairly subjected to trade penalties are unable to challenge the legality of a member country's trade rules. Instead, they are limited to questioning whether trade laws were properly applied.

However, Yvonne Stinson, head of Mexico's section of the Nafta Secretariat, said the panels afford quicker resolution than a two-year process of going before an international trade court in the United States or Mexico's fiscal tribunals.

"It takes 215 days," she said.

The appeal filed last week challenges a June 26 decision by the Department of Commerce that held that Tamsa had dumped product in the U.S. market. Dumping is generally defined at selling goods in a foreign market at prices below production cost, generally to gain market position.

The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) last week determined that Mexico and several other countries that export oil-country tubular goods (OCTG) had caused damage to domestic manufacturers and ordered U.S. Customs to impose a 23.79 percent dumping duty on Tamsa's exports.

Because both the Commerce Department and ITC make separate findings, Tamsa can actually file two requests for review panels under the Nafta. It has until near the end of August to challenge the ITC finding.

Mexico's cement giant, Cementos Mexicanos, was the first Mexican company to seek creation of a special review panel. U.S. steelmakers in April were the first to go before dispute-resolution panels in two separate challenges. The first decision is expected on Aug. 11.