Mexico should work to improve competition, reduce barriers, WTO says

Geneva, Apr 17 (EFE).- Mexico should reduce non-tariff barriers to trade and take measures to increase competition in the oil, electric and telecommunications industries, the World Trade Organization, or WTO, said in a report released on Tuesday.

Mexico has implemented a program of unilaterally cutting tariffs on a broad range of manufactured goods and simplifying its tariff levels, reducing them from 88 to 28, the WTO said in "Trade Policy Review: Mexico," a report that covers the period since 2008.

"This is most noteworthy as Mexico was one of the few countries to carry out substantial tariff reductions in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, which hit the Mexican economy relatively hard. The most important change took place in 2010, when tariffs were eliminated on 3,852 lines," the WTO said.

WTO experts praised Mexico for taking steps to streamline customs procedures and reduce investment costs.

"Such measures include the elimination in 2008 of certain import requirements and the creation of a single window for trade, which became fully operational in September 2012. However, and despite these efforts, there is scope to reduce the incidence of non-tariff border measures, particularly sanitary and phytosanitary measures," the WTO said.

Mexico should work to improve competition in several key industries, the report said.

"Reforms in 2010 increased penalties for violations of the competition law and made unfair competition practices a criminal offense. Nevertheless, there is still scope to enhance competition in sectors such as hydrocarbons, electricity and telecommunications," the WTO said.

Mexico faces the challenge, according to the WTO, of increasing labor productivity and general economic competitiveness.

"Although Mexico is a medium-income country, with GDP per capita of just over US$10,000, income distribution is skewed and poverty reduction remains a challenge," the WTO said.