Free Trade between Mexico and the United States?

By Sidney Weintraub | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FOUR
Mexican Trade Policy

MEXICAN trade policy is not constant in that efforts to reduce import restrictions with the goal of improving industrial competitiveness have given way to renewed protectionism at times of balance-of-payments crisis. The years 1982 and 1983 were times of such financial crisis and, hence, of restrictive import policy.


Patterns of Imports and Exports

As a result of Mexico's past policy of industrialization and the heavy emphasis placed on import substitution, Mexican merchandise imports are composed mainly of industrial inputs and capital goods (table 4-1). These two categories normally make up between 80 and 90 percent of the value of total Mexican imports.1 This industrialization policy was made effective by Mexico's system of protection against imports. Since 1947 import licenses have supplemented to shield domestic production against competition from outside, and by the 1970s, import

____________________
1
For data on Mexico's foreign trade with countries other than the United States or with the world as a whole, the sources generally used are the Banco de México or the International Monetary Fund, which obtains its data from Mexican authorities. However, the IMF and the Banco de México differ in their presentation of trade data. The merchandise trade account in the IMF data includes nonmonetary gold and silver trade, whereas the Banco de México's publication, Indicadores Económicos, shows this separately. The IMF data are on a free-on-board basis both for imports and exports since 1971, whereas Indicadores showed imports including cost, insurance, and freight until recently. The IMF merchandise trade deficit figures tend to be larger than those in the Indicadores. My source for U.S. data on bilateral U.S.-Mexican trade is the U.S. Bureau of the Census, and these figures differ from those reported by the Banco de México. However, although precise trade figures differ according to the source used, the conclusions would not.

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