US Builders Group seeks suspension of Mexican cement

US Builders Group seeks suspension of Mexican cement
Published: 25 June 2004

Citing rising cement prices and tight supply, a group representing US construction firms has called for suspension of punitive tariffs on imports of Mexican cement.


Last month, Mexican cement maker Cemex SA (CX) said Mexican suppliers could probably solve the U.S. shortage, but that exports have been hindered by 14-year-old anti-dumping duties that are now at $52 a ton with cement prices in the low $70s a ton.


In a letter Wednesday to US Commerce Secretary Donald Evans, the chief executive of the Association of General Contractors of America, Stephen Sandherr, said a temporary suspension of the tariffs could prevent delays and layoffs in the U.S. without allowing dumping.


"The high duty on Mexican cement is discouraging imports that could quickly help the dire situation in Florida and other states easily reached from Mexico by barge, train or truck," said Sandherr, whose group represents all types of non-residential construction in the US.


Sandherr noted that the Portland Cement Association has found cement shortages in all or parts of 23 states, and that other, more northern regions could face a squeeze as their recently begun foundation-pouring and road-paving season progresses.


"US cement mills are operating at full capacity, significant expansion is years away, and there are few if any ships available to bring cement from foreign sources," he said.