Report: NAFTA’s Uninvited guest: China and the Disintegration of North American Trade

January 3, 2014

NAFTA_logoBy Enrique Dussel Peters and Kevin P. Gallagher

CEPAL Review, August 2013

This paper examines the extent to which China’s entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001 and subsequent surge in global exports affected the composition of trade between the United States and Mexico through 2009. The authors found that China’s entry had a significant impact on the trade relations between these two North American countries, replacing and displacing many of the export strongholds in place before China joined the WTO and after the first stage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (1994-2000). Based on this research, the authors offer a variety of policy options for reinvigorating United States-Mexico trade and cooperating with China in the global economy.

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Trade Dispute With Mexico Over ‘Dolphin-Safe’ Tuna Heats Up

October 4, 2013

NPR, 3/10/2013

wtoThe fight over Mexican tuna, and whether it is truly fished using dolphin safe practices, rages on. Mexico recently won a two decade long fight to get its tuna labeled dolphin safe. The WTO this month ruled in its favor. But the U.S. still refuses to allow Mexican tuna with a dolphin safe label on store shelves. Mexico says it’s had enough and is preparing to retaliate with trade sanctions on U.S. imports. Ensenada, Baja California, was once the thriving heart of the Mexican tuna industry.

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Mexico says it may suspend U.S. trade preferences over meat labels

June 10, 2013

meat-packaging1Reuters, 6/7/2013

Mexico’s Economy Ministry said on Friday it was considering suspending preferential trade tariffs with the United States for a variety of products in a simmering dispute over meat labeling. The disagreement stems from a 2009 U.S. requirement that retail outlets specify the country of origin on labels on meat and other products in an effort to give consumers more information about the safety and origin of their food.

Canada and Mexico have complained to the World Trade Organization that the COOL (country-of-origin labeling) rules discriminated against imported livestock. The trade body ordered the United States to comply with WTO rules by May 23, but the U.S. government made revisions that Canada and Mexico say would only make the situation worse.

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U.S. meat labels to detail animal’s origin; Canada, Mexico raise concern

May 28, 2013

meat-packaging1The Washington Post, 5/24/2013

New rules for U.S. meatpackers will require labeling that tells consumers where the animal was born, raised and slaughtered. Sounds simple. But the regulations, posted Friday by the Department of Agriculture, are the latest move in a trade dispute that has pitted U.S. consumer groups, which favor the labels, against free-trade advocates, who say the regulations are biased against cattle and pork from Canada and Mexico.

Nor are the regulations likely to be the last word in the international controversy, which seems destined to wind up — again — before the World Trade Organization, which has previously ruled that U.S. labeling regulations discriminated against Canadian and Mexican livestock. The dispute over meat labeling is one of a handful in recent years in which U.S. efforts to regulate food and other products have been rejected by the WTO. The WTO has ruled against U.S. “dolphin-safe” tuna labels and weighed in as well against a ban on clove-flavored cigarettes.

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US isn’t respecting meat labeling rules, Mexico says

May 22, 2013

meat-packaging1Reuters, 5/21/2013

The United States is not respecting a World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling on meat labeling, Mexico’s Agriculture Minister Enrique Martinez said on Tuesday, saying it was hurting local industry. The WTO ruled in late June last year that a U.S. program for labeling imported meat unfairly discriminated against Mexico and Canada, putting pressure on the United States to bring the scheme in line with global country-of-origin meat-labeling rules.

“We can’t understand why once the very WTO … issues a ruling, the government of the United States does not respect it,” Martinez said. “We have talked with beef producers in the United States and Canada, and totally agree this is an arbitrary decision and means discrimination against Mexican beef, which we will never agree with and as a government will defend against.”

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Mexico congratulates Brazil win in rival WTO candidacy

May 9, 2013

brazil flag -- brick wallAFP, 5/8/2013

Mexico congratulated Brazilian diplomat Roberto Azevedo for his victory in the race to lead the World Trade Organization, confirming the defeat of its candidate, former Mexican trade chief Herminio Blanco. Mexico’s economy ministry said that, according to the three ambassadors in charge of leading the election process, Azevedo was “the candidate favored by the WTO membership” and that Blanco called him to “express his full support in his new post.”

“Mexico congratulates Ambassador Roberto Azevedo for his election,” the ministry said in a statement. Diplomats said earlier that Azevedo, Brazil’s ambassador to the 159-nation organization, narrowly defeated Blanco in the final round of voting in the closed-door contest. Seven other candidates had been eliminated in earlier rounds.

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Mexico Battles Brazil for Clout Via WTO Top Job as Economy Grows

May 7, 2013

Flag-Pins-Mexico-BrazilBloomberg, 5/6/2013

Latin America’s two largest nations are vying for economic and diplomatic clout as their candidates face off as finalists to head the World Trade Organization. The WTO is scheduled to name by May 8 the first director- general from Latin America in its 18-year history. It will choose between Roberto Azevedo, Brazil (BZGDGDP4)’s representative to the Geneva-based group, and Herminio Blanco, a former Mexico trade minister who led the nation’s negotiations for the North American Free Trade Agreement with the U.S. and Canada. The winner will replace the outgoing WTO chief, France’s Pascal Lamy, in September.

The race is a contest for diplomatic prowess as Mexico draws on its faster growth and more open economy to fortify its candidate, said Michael Shifter, president of Inter-American Dialogue in Washington. Analysts polled by Bloomberg forecast Mexico will outgrow its southern peer for the third straight year in 2013, reversing a trend that allowed Brazil to pull ahead as the region’s largest market in 2005. “There’s rivalry and competition there,” Shifter said by telephone from Washington. “Mexico is feeling very confident. As they seek to gain more international clout, Brazil is on their mind.”

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WTO set for Latin American boss, Brazil and Mexico vie for job

April 26, 2013

Latin_America2Reuters, 4/25/13

The next head of the World Trade Organization will be either Mexico’s Herminio Blanco or Brazil’s Roberto Azevedo, guaranteeing a Latin American nation will hold the top job at the global trade body for the first time. Blanco and Azevedo emerged as the only candidates remaining after the second of three rounds of competition to succeed Pascal Lamy on Sept 1, a diplomatic source said on Thursday.

The winner, who will emerge by the end of May, faces a huge challenge of restoring confidence in the WTO’s ability to negotiate a global trade deal. The job confers little executive power, forcing the holder to rely on diplomacy, wit and persuasion. Azevedo is Brazil’s ambassador to the WTO and Blanco is a veteran trade negotiator who led Mexico in the NAFTA free trade talks.

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Mexico’s Candidate for WTO Urges Shake-Up

April 24, 2013

globe - south america - connections to worldThe Wall Street Journal, 4/24/13

The world’s most important trade body needs a major shake-up in leadership to revive the long-dormant Doha round of global trade talks or else it will become irrelevant among newer, fleeter free-trade agreements, said Herminio Blanco, one of the candidates to take over the World Trade Organization.

Mr. Blanco, who was Mexico’s chief negotiator to create the landmark North American Free Trade Agreement and represented Mexico in the last successful global trade round that created the WTO two decades ago, told The Wall Street Journal in a recent interview that the WTO risked becoming a simple referee of its increasingly outdated rules rather than leading global trade.

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Mexico fights “protectionist” Argentina at WTO

August 28, 2012

Reuters, 8/27/12

“The government of Mexico reiterates its deep worry over the protectionist measures that Argentina is applying, as well as practices that lack transparency and affect trade between our two nations and generate uncertainty,” Mexico’s Economy Ministry said in a statement.

It said Argentina and Mexico should hold consultations over the next 30 days to try and find a mutually acceptable way out. It could ask the WTO to set up a panel to adjudicate if there is no resolution within 60 days, it said…

Mexico exported almost $2 billion in goods to Argentina last year, double the amount of trade coming the other way. But after Argentina introduced new import hurdles in February, trade has taken a knock. In June, the latest month for which data is available, Mexico exported goods worth $111 million to Argentina, down nearly 40 percent from 2011.

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