U.S. enters agreement with Mexico on cement imports
The Bush administration officially entered an agreement with Mexico to increase imports of gray portland cement, effectively ending a 16-year trade dispute between the two countries.
“The agreement contains provisions that will help increase access to the Mexican market for U.S. cement producers, and it also ensures that our Gulf Coast communities will have the resources necessary to rebuild,” said U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez in a statement Monday.
The agreement settles all litigation regarding outstanding claims for duties before U.S. and international courts, and divides between the parties the deposits of estimated antidumping duties.
The agreement also sets a limit of 3 million metric tons on imports of Mexican cement to enter the United States at an antidumping duty rate of $3 per metric ton. If a disaster occurs, it allows the president to seek an additional 200,000 metric tons at the same duty rate. If the terms of the agreement are adhered to over the next three years, the agreement will end and the antidumping order revoked.
In 1989, the Southern Tier Cement Committee filed a petition with the Commerce Department, which resulted in an antidumping duty investigation. The department found that Mexican producers sold cement at less than fair value in the U.S. market. On Aug. 30, 1990, an antidumping duty order on imports of gray portland cement from Mexico took effect.
In 2004, members of Congress, trade groups and cement consumers called on the Commerce Department to reduce or eliminate the antidumping duties so that cement could be imported from Mexico at a more reasonable cost. These efforts were renewed after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck the Gulf Coast late last year.
General cement shortages also continue to hinder the country’s builders.
“The mild, dry weather this January meant that more cement was used than usual, making shortages even more likely than last year, when 32 states reported shortages by August,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, chief executive office of the Associated General Contractors of America, in a statement. “Increased ready access to more Mexican cement in some of those states will help contractors to keep working instead of having to lay off employees.”