After nearly four years of waiting, the U.S. has finally received a final word on a whether Mexico's antidumping tariffs on U.S. beef were justified. And the final decision from a bi-national panel for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) ruled in favor of the United States.
Since April 28, 2000, the Mexican government has imposed a complex set of specific duties on most beef carcasses and cuts on a company by company basis with small and medium sized exporters disproportionately affected. Shortly thereafter, in July 2000, a North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) dispute resolution panel was established after the U.S. strongly objected to the Mexican government's actions.
The average NAFTA dispute resolution process has taken about nine months. This case, however, took nearly four years. It wasn't until June 10, 2003, that this panel first indicated that they would be issuing a decision on Mexico's anti-dumping tariffs, and five additional deadlines came and went before the panel issued the finding that the Mexican government incorrectly imposed these duties.
"These unwarranted 'antidumping' accusations have imposed high tariffs on several U.S. beef exporting firms for far too long, while tariffs on beef trade between the U.S. and Mexico were established at zero in 1994." exclaims National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) President Jan Lyons. "We are vindicated."
The issue has been a top priority for NCBA to prevent further loss for U.S. producers. "This case has cost U.S. beef producers millions of dollars in lost beef exports to Mexico," adds NCBA Chief Economist Gregg Doud. "Our industry's future growth is dependent upon our ability to export. There must be a firm commitment to existing agreements by industry stakeholders and the U.S. government."
The NAFTA panel decision sends this case back to the Economic Ministry of the Mexican government and orders it to comply with the panel's findings and inform the panel of its compliance within three months. The panel's 83-page decision was distributed Tuesday afternoon.