WASHINGTON, D.C. – A central Ohio company that employs more than 700 Ohioans continues to face discriminatory tactics by the Mexican government, limiting the company’s growth. In response to concerns raised by Advanced Drainage Systems (ADS) of Hilliard, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) called on the U.S. Trade Representative to utilize the newly created Interagency Trade Enforcement Center and stand up for ADS.
“The Mexican government is using unfair trade practices to illegally shut out American manufacturers like ADS,” Brown said. “That’s why we need to step up pressure and demand that Mexico abides by the rules.”
Based in Hilliard and employing more than 700 workers, ADS is the world’s largest producer of corrugated high-density polyethylene (HDPE) pipes used for drainage and sewage systems. Though ADS has an existing presence in Mexico, the Mexican government illegally shut out American producers by arbitrarily imposing a technical standard that would bar the use of all HDPE pipes.
Using technical regulations and standards to restrict trade are illegal under the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The letter asks Ambassador Ron Kirk to work with the Mexican government to comply with its legal obligations with WTO and NAFTA.
A long-time supporter of fair trade agreements, Brown also stood up to President Clinton during debate of the NAFTA in 1994. In November 2011, Brown led a letter with U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) and U.S. Reps. Pat Tiberi (OH-12) and Steve Stivers (OH-15) calling on the Obama Administration to demand Mexico abide by international trade obligations.
Full text of the letter is below.
June 5, 2012
Ambassador Ron Kirk
United States Trade Representative
600 17th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20508
Dear Ambassador Kirk:
Following up on my letter of November 9, 2011, I sincerely appreciate your staff’s engagement with the Government of Mexico regarding the discriminatory process by which Mexico’s National Water Commission (NWC) is de-certifying long-time U.S. providers of sanitary sewer pipe to Mexico, including Advanced Drainage Systems, an Ohio-based pipe manufacturer. However, despite your efforts, the NWC has yet to rectify its discriminatory certification regime, and continues to ignore the existing technical standards under Mexico’s own law.
As you may recall, last year the NWC – at the request of Mexico’s domestic PVC pipe manufacturers – began requiring all sanitary pipe producers to meet an International Standards Organization (ISO) standard that is not codified under Mexican law, and is only relevant to PVC pipe. This effectively excluded high density polyethylene (HDPE) pipes – made predominantly by U.S. manufacturers – from the Mexican market, despite years of selling HDPE pipe into that market.
The 2012 Technical Barriers to Trade report issued by your office outlines these unfair practices, and we appreciate the Administration’s pledge to continue to press the Mexican government regarding this issue.
The use of technical regulations to unfairly restrict trade is illegal under the rules of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT). Moreover, I am concerned by Mexico’s refusal to recognize as “international standards” relevant American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards for sanitary sewer pipe. Indeed, I understand that it is the Administration’s position that ASTM International standards should be recognized as “international standards” for purposes of the TBT Agreement.
For all these reasons, I urge USTR to take the next step in its engagement with Mexico, and consider utilizing the newly created Interagency Trade Enforcement Center to seek remedy on this important issue for U.S. manufacturers and investors.
United States Senator
cc: Brad Ward, Director, Interagency Trade Enforcement Center