Joe Dorn, a Washington-based attorney representing the Southern Tier Cement Committee accuses Mexicans of double standards: "The bottom line is, Cemex cannot have it both ways," "The Mexican cement giant should not be allowed to illegally dump cement into the southern United States while at the same time protecting its home market by forcing the Mexican government to reject any imported cement bound for Mexico."
The Mexican cement oligopoly, led by Cemex, has virtual veto power over the Mexican Government’s approval of cement imports. This protectionism on behalf of Cemex allows it to receive among the highest prices in the world for its cement in Mexico, where per capita income ranks 80th in the world. The Mexican producers use the high prices and profits received on their sales in Mexico to subsidize their exports to the United States and to undersell U.S. producers, threatening domestic production and thousands of American jobs.
A striking example of this protectionism is the Mary Nour, a vessel that Cemex prevented from offloading 26,000 metric tons of cement from Russia into Mexico. After trying for a year to obtain authority from the Mexican government to offload at two Mexican ports, the ship was forced to sail for Africa last month. While Mexico blocks cement imports into its country, the United States has the most open cement market in the world. In 2004, the United States received over 26 million metric tons of cement imports from over 30 countries.
"It’s very concerning that a few American business and industry groups have been recruited, under the guise of a cement supply crisis, to help CEMEX remove the duty imposed on its illegally dumped cement," said Dorn. "How can the Associated General Contractors of America and other groups criticize the United States for imposing duties on Mexican cement to offset illegal dumping that threatens American jobs, when Mexico does not permit imports of fairly traded cement into its market?"
"These groups’ positions ignore the fact that Mexico has a protectionist wall in place to protect Cemex and that Cemex still continues to illegally dump cement into the United States. They also ignore the fact that lifting the duty will not alleviate the short-term supply issues being experienced in some areas of the country. They should realize that the duty doesn’t prohibit cement being imported from Mexico, it only insures that it is fairly priced." In fact, imports of cement from Mexico increased 68 percent from 2003 to 2004 and another 136 percent in the first four months of this year compared with the first four months of 2004.