Parties Meet at Mexico–US Anti-Dumping Hearing

US & MEXICO - The US and Mexican poultry industries began a long-awaited dialogue this week in an effort to resolve Mexico's anti-dumping case against imports of US chicken leg quarters.
calendar icon 1 September 2011
clock icon 4 minute read

On Monday (29 August), representatives from both industries and their lawyers gathered in Mexico City for a rare conciliatory hearing called by the Mexican Unit of International Trade Practices (UPCI), part of the Mexican Secretariat of Economy (Economia). The hearing came after multiple requests by lawyers for the US side, according to Jim Sumner, president of the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council (USAPEEC).

Earlier this year, Industrias Bachoco – Mexico's largest producer of poultry – and two smaller companies petitioned UPCI to begin an anti-dumping investigation of imports of chicken leg quarters from the US, claiming that US companies are exporting leg quarters to Mexico at below-market prices.

About 37 US poultry companies and trading companies joined USAPEEC as participants in challenging Mexican industry's claims of dumping.

Monday's hearing marked the first face-to-face meeting for both sides since UPCI launched its investigation in February. Although Mexican trade law provides for such hearings as a mechanism for working toward resolution of trade disputes, they are rare. Mexico's last conciliatory hearing more than a decade ago was also its first.

UPCI chief, Hugo Perezcano, presided over the hearing, which attracted 53 participants from both countries and their lawyers. He told participants that the reason for the hearing is simple: for both sides to begin working toward a settlement.

USAPEEC presented a wide-ranging proposal during the hearing aimed at preventing trade disruptions while at the same time addressing the concerns of the Mexican government and its poultry industry. Both the petitioners and the Mexican government reacted favourably to the proposal.

Mr Sumner added: "Our legal team is quite pleased with the results of Monday's hearin. We accomplished everything we had hoped for, and more. We look at the conciliatory hearing as the beginning of the process to start our discussions with the petitioners to develop a workable settlement."

Mr Perezcano also said that UPCI would extend the conciliatory hearing process, encouraging both sides to continue working toward a settlement. He said, however, that the agency would continue its investigation irrespective of the conciliatory process.

Meanwhile, in a separate announcement on Tuesday (30 August), Mr Perezcano said that UPCI would publish its preliminary determination in the investigation on 30 September. This will provide the first real indication of how seriously the Mexican government takes the allegations of the petitioners. The preliminary determination will address three key issues: whether there was 'injury' to the petitioners, whether there was dumping, and whether interim duties will be assessed on US companies exporting leg quarters to Mexico.

Mr Perezcano asked that USAPEEC, in consultation with the Mexican Poultry Producers Association and the NAFTA Egg & Poultry Partnership – a bilateral industry-to-industry group – continue to fine-tune its proposal for submission by 14 September. Bachoco will then have until 30 September to respond to the proposal, with hope of reaching a consensus by 7 October.

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