The United States and Mexico are close to a deal that would allow Mexican cement producers to increase exports to the US market and end a 15-year-old trade fight, a top Mexican official said on Tuesday. "We hope no later than one, two weeks, for the final agreement," Mexican Economy Minister Sergio Garcia told reporters after meetings with US officials. The proposed pact would significantly cut the high US anti-dumping duty on Mexican cement and establish a quota for three years to limit Mexico’s exports, he said.
Mexico has filed a number of complaints with the World Trade Organization and under the North American Free Trade Agreement to get the duties removed. Efforts to reach a negotiated settlement intensified after Hurricane Katrina destroyed a huge swath of the U.S. Gulf Coast in late August. The rebuilding effort is expected to boost demand for cement, which the US construction industry says is already in short supply in many states.
US and Mexican negotiators met last week in Mexico City and there was some hope that Garcia’s visit would be the occasion for the two sides to announce a deal. However, negotiators were still haggling over some details, a source familiar with the talks said.