WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) applauded the decision that will allow Advanced Drainage Systems (ADS) — a central Ohio company that employs more than 700 Ohioans —to resume sales in Mexico. On August 9, Mexico agreed to issue ADS a one-year certificate that will allow the company to sell its product in Mexico.

“The backbone of Ohio’s economy is our manufacturing sector, but in order for it to thrive, our businesses need an equal playing field in the international market,” Brown said. “That is why Mexico’s decision is a positive step for both ADS and Ohio’s workers. I applaud the Obama Administration's vigilance in ensuring Mexican authorities adhere to the law. This will allow ADS to expand its business, create local jobs, and contribute more to our state’s economy. I look forward to continuing work with the Obama Administration and my colleagues in order to maintain this momentum."

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, until recently, the Mexican government had illegally shut out American producers by arbitrarily imposing a technical standard that would bar the use of all HDPE pipes. While the recent decision is a step in the right direction, USTR must continue to press for a long-term solution that will ensure that export markets in Mexico remain open for ADS and all American manufacturers.

Brown has long championed Ohio businesses and fought to protect them from illegal trade practices by foreign competitors. In June 2012, in response to concerns raised by ADS, Brown called on the U.S. Trade Representative to utilize the newly created Interagency Trade Enforcement Center and stand up for ADS. 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.

Sincerely,

Sherrod Brown
United States Senator

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