GENEVA — Trading partners in a global forum lauded Mexico for having unilaterally reduced its applied tariffs and for its strong commitment to free trade, but also urged it to not delay the lowering of import duties on 165 apparel and footwear lines marked by peak tariffs.

“Mexico has undertaken a number of historic reforms designed to boost economic growth through enhanced competition and openness to foreign investment, ” David Bisbee, the U.S. delegate, told a recent two-day World Trade Organization review session of Mexico’s trade regime.

Bisbee said total two-way flows in goods and services trade between the United States and Mexico reached $579.7 billion in 2016 — more than $1.5 billion per day — and highlighted Mexico is “currently our third-largest trading partner, and our second-largest market for goods exports.”

Trading partners also praised Mexico’s low average overall MFN applied tariff, which fell to 5.5 percent in 2016 from 6.2 percent in 2012.

However some apparel exporters such as Hong Kong voiced their disappointment during the review session, at the decision by Mexico to delay the liberalization of 165 lines related to apparel and footwear until the end of 2019, and encouraged the government to proceed with the cuts, which were slated to take place by 2013.

Pressed, the Mexican delegation countered that the decision to delay was made after taking into account the suggestions from the apparel and footwear industry, and indicated it did not envisage any advancement before 2019, trade diplomats said..

“These lines will be subject to cuts come 2019,” a senior Mexican trade official told WWD.

But compared with Mexico’s low overall average tariff of 4.6 percent for industrial goods, many of the exempted lines are shielded behind tariffs as high as 30 percent.

Sports T-shirts face a 25 percent import duty, as do ties, bras, gloves, pullovers, sweaters and jerseys, trousers and shorts, while women’s and men’s cotton underwear face duties of 30 percent. Trousers, which contain 36 percent or more wool, also face a 30 percent import duty.

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