A company in Central Ohio employing more than 700 Ohioans has reported facing 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. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) and U.S. Reps. Pat Tiberi (OH-12) and Steve Stivers (OH-15) called on the Obama Administration to enforce existing trade law and demand Mexico abide by international trade obligations.
"We are concerned that the U.S. drainage and sewage pipe industry is being excluded from the Mexican market by Mexican authorities in violation of Mexico's international trade obligations," the Members of Congress wrote in a letter sent today to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk. "This issue has a significant impact on Ohio workers, including the nearly 700 Ohio employees of Advanced Drainage Systems (ADS)."
ADS, which is based in Hilliard and employs more than 700 workers, 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 requiring an arbitrary technical standard without warning.
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) and the letter asks Ambassador Ron Kirk to work with the Mexican government to bring the nation into compliance with WTO and NAFTA.
Full text of the letter is below.
November 9, 2011
The Honorable Ron Kirk
United States Trade Representative
600 17th Street NW
Washington, DC 20508
Dear Ambassador Kirk:
We are concerned that the U.S. drainage and sewage pipe industry is being excluded from the Mexican market by Mexican authorities in violation of Mexico's international trade obligations. This issue has a significant impact on Ohio workers, including the nearly 700 Ohio employees of Advanced Drainage Systems (ADS).
Based in Hilliard, Ohio, ADS is the world's largest producer of corrugated high-density polyethylene (HDPE) pipe. They have significant investments in Mexico and are negatively affected as a result of this effort by Mexican authorities who refuse to follow the mandatory certification standards in Mexican law. Instead, these authorities are relying on so-called "international" standards that are not part of Mexican law, but are tailored to the design of competing "like" products, which are only being produced by domestic manufacturers.
Currently, the Mexican drainage and sewage market uses both HDPE pipe, which is primarily manufactured by U.S. companies, and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe, which is primarily manufactured by Mexican producers. All pipes sold in Mexico must be certified by the Mexican National Water Commission (NWC) as meeting certain technical and performance criteria set forth in established government standards. This manufacturer's HDPE pipes have been certified since 2004, but were denied re-certification last year when, without warning, the NWC began requiring HDPE pipe producers to meet a technical standard that was not codified under Mexican law, and was specifically designed for PVC pipes only. By requiring HDPE pipes to meet this irrelevant standard that is contrary to Mexican law, the NWC is effectively shutting U.S. pipe companies out of the Mexican market.
As you know, the use of technical regulations and standards to restrict trade is illegal under the rules of the World Trade Organization and the North American Free Trade Agreement. We therefore ask that you engage the Government of Mexico on this important issue for the U.S. drainage and sewage pipe industry, and urge them to immediately come into compliance with their international trade obligations.