Mexico to seek expert panel to fix auto dispute with U.S., report says

MEXICO CITY — Mexico plans to seek the arbitration of a panel of experts to resolve a simmering dispute with the U.S. over the interpretation of rules of origin in the automotive industry, three people familiar with the matter told Reuters on Tuesday.

Mexico wants the panel to clear up its differences with the U.S. over how to apply automotive sector content requirements under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which underpins trade in North America.

Mexico’s Economy Ministry, which has taken a firm stance with the U.S. in the automotive dispute, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on its plans.

Using the panel would escalate the ongoing tussle over automotive content rules, which were at the heart of former U.S. President Donald Trump’s drive to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement with what became USMCA.

Mexico favors a more flexible interpretation of the auto industry regulations than the U.S., which sought an overhaul of NAFTA in order to protect U.S. manufacturing jobs.

U.S. trade unions argue that jobs have migrated to lower-cost Mexican plants since NAFTA first came into effect in 1994.

Mexico’s government said earlier this month it had begun formal consultations with the U.S. over the rules’ interpretation. Canada has also been at odds with the U.S. over how the auto rules are applied under USMCA.

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