MEXICO CITY — For the third time in six years, the Mexican government will consider extending protective tariffs on polystyrene resin, this time for high-impact polystyrene imported from the United States.
The government trade ministry Secretaria de Comercio y Fomento Industrial (Secofi) is investigating complaints made by the two principal PS producers in Mexico. The companies claim U.S. HIPS suppliers sold resin at ``dumping prices'' from January 1997 to June 1998, according to Secofi.
But Ricardo Mendez, polystyrene marketing manager at BASF Mexicana SA de CV, denied that U.S. firms were dumping HIPS.
He echoed a statement made in June by Klaus Frei, director of BASF Mexicana's polymers division, that Mexican suppliers are not ready to compete globally, so instead they are ``trying to close the borders.''
The latest complaint names two U.S. suppliers: BASF Corp. of Mount Olive, N.J., and Dow Chemical Co. of Midland, Mich.
The two Mexico City-based suppliers, Resirene SA de CV and Poliestireno y Derivados SA de CV, have requested all three of the PS dumping investigations. The first, in 1992, resulted in tariffs on PS resins from some U.S. suppliers beginning in 1993. In December 1997 the government agreed to extend those tariffs.
In June 1998 Secofi began a dumping investigation against European Union suppliers. That investigation is continuing, and a public hearing is scheduled for May, according to Secofi.
According to Secofi, U.S. imports rose 47 percent during the period cited, giving U.S. companies a 21 percent share of the PS market. The average price of PS from the United States was 30 percent less than imports from other countries, according to a Secofi report.
Companies cited in the complaint have about two months to respond to Secofi.