Mexico Seeks Refund From U.S., WTO Trade Dispute Rulings

By Agence France-Presse Mexico on Aug. 18 said it would take the unusual step of seeking a refund from the United States in the World Trade Organization for what it claimed were 13 years of unfair anti-dumping duties levied on Mexican cement imports, trade sources said. The move came as Mexico asked the WTO to rule on three disputes challenging U.S. anti-dumping measures imposed on two types of Mexican cement as well as oil drilling equipment and U.S. duties levied on steel plate, the sources added. Mexican ambassador Eduardo Perez Motta told a meeting of the WTO Disputes Settlement Body that Mexico was not only seeking the withdrawal of the anti-dumping duties but also a refund in the cement case. He added that it was "the only way that the WTO can give a sense in trade terms to the legitimate interests of Mexico" following "more than a decade" of losses. Mexico gave no precise estimate of the amount of money involved. The Mexican complaint to the WTO listed a series of measures taken by U.S. authorities that it said violated the global trade body's rules. It also cited a ruling against the U.S. measures by the organization that preceded the WTO, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). That ruling followed a Mexican complaint made shortly after the U.S. imposed anti-dumping duties on cement imports form its southern neighbor in August 1990. In keeping with WTO rules, Aug. 18's request for disputes settlement panels on the three cases were blocked automatically after Washington opposed them, trade sources said. The cases are likely to be reactivated if Mexico makes a second request, at the earliest at the next meeting of the Disputes Settlement Body on Aug. 29. The United States called on Mexico to withdraw the complaint and re-file it, saying it was not clear about the legal basis for the anti-dumping cases on cement and drilling equipment, trade sources said. The U.S. also said countervailing duties on Mexican steel plate imports imposed in 1998 were being liquidated. Trade sources said the Mexican request for reimbursement was unusual and that a panel was likely to rule on the validity of the claim. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2003

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