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Mexico: Imports
Country Study > Chapter 3 > The Economy > Foreign Trade > Imports


After 1983 the government eliminated import license requirements, official import prices, and quantitative restrictions. This trade liberalization program sought to make Mexican producers more competitive by giving them access to affordable inputs. By 1985 the share of total imports subject to licensing requirements had fallen from 75 percent to 38 percent. In 1986 Mexico acceded to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), now the World Trade Organization (WTO), and in 1987 it agreed to a major liberalization of bilateral trade relations with the United States.

As a consequence of trade liberalization, the share of domestic output protected by import licenses fell from 92 percent in June 1985 to 18 percent by the end of 1990. The maximum tariff was lowered from 100 percent in 1985 to 20 percent in 1987, and the weighted average tariff fell from 29 percent in 1985 to 12 percent by the end of 1990. The volume of imports subject to entry permits was reduced from 96 percent of the total in 1982 to 4 percent by 1992. The remaining export controls applied mainly to food products, pharmaceuticals, and petroleum and oil derivatives.

The value of Mexico's imports rose steadily from US$50 billion in 1991 to US$79 billion in 1994 (19 percent of GDP). It rose in response to the recovery of domestic demand (especially for food products); the new peso's new stability; trade liberalization; and growth of the nontraditional export sector, which required significant capital and intermediate inputs. Renewed growth and the new peso's real appreciation were expected to increase demand for foreign products during 1996. Imports rose by 12 percent in the first quarter of 1996 to US$20 billion.

The government tried to curb the early 1990s' rise in imports by acting against perceived unfair trade practices by other countries. In early 1993, Mexico retaliated against alleged dumping of United States, Republic of Korea (South Korean), and Chinese goods by imposing compensatory quotas on brass locks, pencils, candles, fiber products, sodium carbonate, and hydrogen peroxide. Antidumping duties were applied to steel products, and all importers were required to produce certification of origin.

But Mexico also was subject to complaints by other countries, which charged that Mexico itself engaged in unfair practices. The European Community (now the European Union -- EU) and Japan lodged complaints with the GATT about Mexico's invocation of sanitary standards in late 1992 to limit meat imports.

Data as of June 1996

Last Updated: June 1996

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Mexico was first published in 1996. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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