Mexico City – Mexico's government has sent China a letter accusing some of its companies of engaging in unfair practices to evade customs duties.
The missive, signed by Economy Secretary Bruno Ferrari, expresses "concern" over practices by Chinese companies such as declaring goods at falsely low prices, deliberately misclassifying merchandise and shipping products via third countries.
Mexico has found that some companies offer services to Chinese exporters that help them evade legitimate duties by "concealing the origin, value or other characteristics of the goods" and thereby tricking customs officials, the economy ministry said in a statement.
Ferrari proposed in the letter to Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming that a special team be formed under the framework of the Mexico-China High Level Group to "analyze, discuss and solve the problem" in the near future.
Mexico "wants to keep building a sustainable, long-term commercial relationship with China," its second-biggest trade partner, the statement said, noting that since the Asian giant joined the World Trade Organization in 2001 it has sought to ensure that country "fulfills its (trade) obligations."
Mexico, the United States and the European Union have been among the most frequent complainants before the WTO over China's trade practices, according to the economy ministry.
Cases that Mexico has brought before the Geneva-based trade organization against China have included complaints about banned subsidies and restrictions it has placed on exports of some raw materials from the Asian country, as well as violations of intellectual-property and investment rights.
The letter comes a few months before restrictions imposed by Mexico on a range of Chinese imported goods are set to expire.
Although Mexican quotas on about 750 Chinese-imported products expired in 2008, the two countries signed an agreement that same year establishing a transition period for some particularly sensitive imported goods.
That accord gave Mexican industrial sectors until December 2011 to prepare for the elimination of compensatory quotas for products such as textiles, apparel, footwear, toys, bicycles, strollers, tools, appliances, electrical machines and apparatuses, chemicals, lighters, pencils, valves, ballasts (components in fluorescent lamps), locks, candles and other items.
Mexican authorities also have complained about the asymmetry in the country's trade relations with China.
According to Mexican authorities, imports from China in 2010 were valued at $45.6 billion, while exports to the Asian nation amounted to just $4.2 billion.