Trade Cases

US senators call for deadline on Mexican steel export monitoring agreement

Written by Ethan Bernard

A bipartisan group of US senators has written a letter requesting a clear deadline for an export monitoring agreement of Mexican steel products into the US market.

“The surge of Mexican steel imports into the US market” violates the  2019 Joint Statement by the United States and Mexico on Section 232 Duties on Steel and Aluminum, the senators say in their Dec. 13 letter to National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.

The group applauds US Trade Ambassador Katherine Tai “for securing a commitment on Sept. 23, 2023, from Mexican Economic Minister Buenrostro to reinstate export monitoring to guarantee future compliance with the 2019 Joint Agreement.”

“However, we are concerned that the Mexican government is willfully delaying finalization of this agreement and is negotiating in bad faith,” the letter states.

Also, the group points out that Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has “drastically reduced the staff of Mexico’s Economy Ministry by at least a third, putting into question whether Mexico can even enforce an export monitoring agreement.”

Further, the group urges the Biden administration “to set a clear deadline for the implementation of an export monitoring agreement.”

“We ask for an update from your office by Dec. 31, 2023 on the administration’s next steps in driving these post-breach negotiations to conclusion,” the letter concludes.

The imports threaten the US manufacturing base and national security, according to the letter. The senators note data from 2022 that shows annual iron and steel imports from Mexico have increased by ~73% over the pre-Section 232 2015-17 baseline, as well as citing several Mexican steelmakers.

“This steel surge has already resulted in at least one plant closure, the loss of over a thousand new and existing jobs, and the deferment of millions of dollars in new investment,” the letter states.

“We request additional information on the administration’s plans to address this continued surge and urge you to take immediate action to safeguard US jobs and domestic steel manufacturing,” the letter says.

In September, SMU reported on Deputy USTR Jayme White’s meeting with a Mexican official regarding enhancing monitoring of Mexican steel and aluminum exports to the US.

A request for comment from Mexican steel association Canacero was not returned by time of publication.  

Ethan Bernard

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