Meeting with China Helps Export CauseBy Jan Hogewoning | Tue, 07/14/2020 - 12:52
On July 9, government representatives from Mexico and China held their 8th high-level working group meeting in a virtual setting. The meeting was co-presided by the Mexican Deputy Minister of Foreign Trade Luz María de la Mora and Deputy Minister and Vice Representative of International Trade at the Ministry of Trade of the People’s Republic of China, Wang Shouwen. The primary topics of the meeting, the Mexican government reports, were e-commerce, investment, mining, customs, regulatory improvement, agriculture exports, among others.
Mexican parties present at the meeting were the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (SADER), the National Service for Food Safety and Quality (SENASICA), the Federal Commission for Protection Against Sanitary Risks (COFEPRIS), the National Institute of Migration (INM), the Central Administration of Customs Attention and International Affairs (ACAAAI-SAT), the Central Administration of Customs Research (ACIA-SAT), the National Commission for Regulatory Improvement (CONAMER) and the Mexican Association of Economic Development Ministries (AMSDE).
Representatives from both countries agreed that more bilateral cooperation must be established and during the meeting, government representatives agreed to create a mechanism that monitors and seeks to address issues that Mexican companies face when trying to enter the Chinese market. This mechanism is to review issues on a quarterly basis. The co-presiding representatives signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the Establishment of the Sub-Working Group for Cooperation in the Promotion and Expedition of Bilateral Trade. This memorandum states parties will work together to realize a protocol for exports of Mexican sorghum to China. In addition, collaboration on Mexican beef and pork exports to China was discussed, with the goal of approving Mexican plants faster. Mexican pork exports to China, in particular, have seen very rapid growth over the past year in the wake of African Swine Fever outbreaks in China. Last week, El Universal reported that the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (SADER) was actively working with Chinese customs agencies to approve more beef plants for export.
Access of Mexican fish was also reviewed. This comes at an interesting moment, as China has just suspended the import of shrimp after having reportedly found goods with traces of COVID-19. Parties agreed to continue streamlining and normalizing trade relations and protocols for different business segments.
Regarding the World Trade Organization (WTO), Mexico reiterated its wish for China to back Jesús Seade’s candidacy to become the next Director General of the organization. This is a sensitive affair, as the WTO authority has been challenged by Trump’s tariff conflict against China. On the candidacy race, the Washington Post writes: “America’s tolerance for a candidate who looks too favorably on China might be tested.” Seade was chief negotiator for the USMCA treaty and some have suggested this can lead to his candidacy being scuppered by China as he may be perceived to be to close to the Americans. In his defense, Seade vowed, in an interview with South China Morning Post in June, to “bring US and China back to the table” and act as a trade facilitator not interested in politics, should he became the new director.
While bilateral memoranda such as that signed in the virtual meeting between Mexican and Chinese representatives on Thursday does not necessarily translate into direct action, Chinese parties seem to be acting to facilitate more Mexican imports in a more streamlined process. This is demonstrated by the recent approval of Mexican meat processing plants by Chinese customs. This could counter part of the mass dependency of Mexican exports on the US market. Last week, Mexico Business reported that many Mexican producers, in this case berry growers, were looking to diversify their export destinations as they fear the impact of potential trade challenges by US parties under the framework of USMCA.