RETAILERS SEEKING MEXICAN CONCESSIONS ON ORIGIN RULE AS PART OF LOAN PACKAGE
Byline: Joyce Barrett
WASHINGTON — As Congress devises a package of loan guarantees to rescue the Mexican economy, retailers are seeking to add to the conditions likely to be attached to the package.
Specifically, the industry is seeking a change in Mexico’s certificate of origin rules, which require that the original documentation accompany imports coming into Mexico via a third country.
The regulation has become a major problem for U.S. retailers shipping foreign-made goods to their stores in Mexico from centralized warehouses in the United States, since U.S. Customs takes these documents when the goods come into the U.S. Attempts to work out a compromise with Mexican officials have so far been unsuccessful.
The loan guarantee package, which could amount to $40 billion, could come before the House and Senate as early as this week.
Bipartisan negotiations began late last week for the package, which must be approved by both the House and Senate.
Members say they’ll be capitalizing on the opportunity to condition approval on concessions from Mexico, ranging from labor reforms to stabilization of the banking system.
Late Friday, the National Retail Federation was in touch with Sen. Bob Packwood (R,. Ore.) to explore the chances of securing the origin certificate change, according to Rob Hall, NRF vice president, government affairs counsel.
Packwood is one of three Republican senators who will be drafting the guarantee measure.
Robin Lanier, vice president for international trade for the International Mass Retail Association, said her association also would work for the certificate change.
Lanier added that she remained pessimistic about Mexico’s compliance.
“I’m not sure that ultimately this attempt to change the certificate rules will prevail,” she said. “But this certainly is a good opportunity to try.”
However, Eugene Milosh, president of the American Association of Exporters and Importers, said the certificate of origin change should not be sought as part of the loan guarantee.
“Some of these issues have to be resolved on their own merits. We’re setting the tone for the rest of Latin America with this, and we have to be very careful not to be perceived as using market and capital clout,” he said. — Fairchild News Service