Trade Secretariat Finalizes Countervailing Duties on Imports of U.S. Beef
In late April, the Secretaria de Comercio y Fomento Industrial (SECOFI) imposed final countervailing duties on imports of US beef products. The decision formalized the preliminary duties imposed against four US meatpackers in July 1999 (see SourceMex, 1999-08-04).
Effective immediately, imports of US whole and half beef carcasses, boneless cuts, and bone-in cuts will be charged duties between US$0.07 cents and US$0.80 cents per pound. The duties were designated in monetary terms rather than percentages to prevent importers from tampering with invoices to pay lower duties.
The final duties will primarily affect US meatpackers ConAgra Inc., IPB Inc., Excel Corp., and Farmland National Beef Packing Co.
SECOFI said the decision followed an 18-month investigation that found that imports of US beef were coming into Mexico at below-market value and threatening the Mexican meat industry.
Industry sources said imports of beef products were being channeled primarily through large retail chains, which in some cases sold the products as much as 77% cheaper than similar domestically produced beef cuts.
But SECOFI decided not to apply final duties to US beef tongues, livers, and edible strippings since there was no evidence that imports of these products were harming the Mexican industry. SECOFI had applied preliminary duties on these products in July 1999. USDA Prime Certified Angus beef, veal, and kosher beef were also exempted from the tariffs.
In its ruling, SECOFI said the damage caused by US meat imports was evident in falling prices, lower production, reduced profits, and the loss of market share for the domestic beef industry.
SECOFI statistics showed Mexican meat imports have surged since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was implemented in 1994. …