Cemex pushes US to lift duties

Cemex pushes US to lift duties
Published: 21 May 2004

Cemex is once again pushing the United States to lift its anti-dumping tariffs on Mexican cement (in place since 1990) and says it would help ease a shortage of the product in the United States.  A company executive said on Thursday that Cemex has excess production capacity at its Mexico plants and was urging Washington to eliminate compensatory tariffs and so boost Mexico’s cement exports to its northern neighbor.

"I am meeting with the (U.S.) Department of Commerce next week to discuss the proposal. We’re expecting probably by August or September we could get to a settlement," said John Bloom, chief economist for Cemex US operations.

"There’s a lot of things that still have to be agreed upon, the details of which haven’t even been put on the table yet," Bloom told Reuters. "We’re at the early stages. Commerce initially has indicated they are receptive to a settlement."

Bloom said Mexican cement pays US duties of $52 per tonne. Mexico’s government has taken the case to the World Trade Organization, where it is under review. It also wants the repayment of extra duties paid over the past 14 years.  Mexico says US officials promised to discuss removing the tariffs after an earlier trade panel ruled in Mexico’s favor.

Since its purchase of Southdown, Cemex  has plants in the United States with an annual production capacity of 14.2 million tonnes of cement - accounting for about 14 percent of the US market.  But Bloom said those US plants could not increase output in response to the shortage because they are operating at full capacity.  He said the tariffs have made the United States vulnerable to cement shortages.