U.S., Mexico sign accord to lower cement duties

An accord signed in March by the United States and Mexico that will drastically lower duties on Mexican cement imports and eventually result in free trade between the two nations is expected to help increase much-needed supplies of Mexican cement to the U.S. market, the NAHB reported.

Under the terms of the agreement, which settles a 16-year dispute on anti-dumping duties on Mexican cement imports, the United States will reduce duties on Mexican cement from $26 to $3 per ton, and Mexican imports will be permitted to grow to 3 million metric tons annually, up from last year's level of approximately 2 million tons.

After three years, the quotas and duties will be entirely eliminated.

The accord is structured so that Florida and the Gulf region, areas facing cement shortages, will be able to significantly increase their imports of Mexican cement. The negotiated framework also provides the flexibility to allow an additional 200,000 metric tons of cement to areas hit by natural disasters.

With domestic cement production running at full capacity last year, the United States still had to import 25 percent of its cement supply in order to meet demand. High anti-dumping tariffs, in place since 1990, have limited supply from Mexico, which has excess capacity. Because of its close proximity to the states, it takes only four days to import cement from Mexico, compared with 40 days from Asia.