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Mexican Industrial Standards and Specifications: Essentials for New Entrants

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Every country has a unique history of development of its own industries, and industries that originated far and wide around the world. Mexico is no different. Some industries are home grown, and set the standard for quality and productions standards around the world. Tequila is a good example. Only producers within a specific geographic area can legally call themselves Tequila producers, though there are some know-off versions of Tequila produced in other parts of the world. By and large, the Tequila standard is established in the Tequila region of the Mexican state of Jalisco.

Industrial Standard

But beyond smaller craft industries like Tequila, international trade activity has made “consensus” one of the agreed upon ways by which standards are set. International bodies meet to plan and establish not only a common language and minimum requirements so that international trade can avoid all kinds of technical barriers, but also to prevent unfair competition and to address concerns about quality, safety and interchangeability.

Though Mexico’s industrial history is as unique and varied as that of nearly any other country, much of Mexico’s 20th century can be attributed to the country’s increasing participation in some of these most important trade bodies, to help ensure that Mexican industry is well integrated into the global economic growth and trade.  

Like any country interested in moving more of its trade sectors into the sectors of international trade, Mexico has had to consider its own national interest and as much as possible the opinion of public, as well as private, technological, scientific and consumer sectors. They do so in preparation for annual and ongoing talks with these organizations.

ISO

Among the most important standards bodies in the world is the International Organization of Standardization (ISO). Mexico coordinates with this body through the Mexican Committee for Attention to the International Organization of Standardization under the direction of the Directorate General of Standards (DGN) and with close regard to representing the interests of the Federal Government of Mexico and the national interests of the country.

The committee establishes the national policy and helps coordinators in voting and to communicate work to the ISO. The multiple subcommittees are made up of technical experts and industry representatives.  

IEC

Nearly equally important in today’s electronic world, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) establishes standards and encourages standardization across the fields of electrical engineering, electronics and electrical communications. Similar to the Committee working with the ISO, in Mexico, the IEC coordinates with the Mexican Electrotechnical Committee (CEM). The committee disseminates the international standards of the IEC to relevant parties all over the country.

All standardization matters that come before the IEC are considered by the CEM in Mexico and the Commission also promotes international cooperation with regard to integral standardization.

COPANT

The Pan American Standards Commission (COPANT) is the third important standards body to which national and federal standards experts need to adhere. Again, under the Secretariat of the Economy, Mexico does so through the Mexican Committee for Attention to the Pan American Standards Commission. COPANT promotes, publicizes and disseminates information on the standardization of nearly all the fields not mentioned above. These can include fields like education, consumer affairs, and research, but importantly for many standards with regard to the energy sector, efficiency and renewable energies.

By and large COPANT works closely with ISO, but with particular emphasis on North and South America.

After NAFTA

Though all of the agreements associated with the above organizations actually pre-date Mexico’s 1995 entry into the NAFTA agreements with the USA and Canada, NAFTA remains one of the most important trade standardization agreements Mexico has ever entered into. Twenty years after entering into the NAFTA agreements, the effects are still being argued in many other areas of the economy or even within the general trade picture. But with all of the of the disagreement in other areas, a broad consensus has been reached in terms of standardization. A better integration of Mexican Industry and Trade into global trends for standardization has been achieved in nearly all the areas covered by the agreement.

Part of NAFTA, and one of its most controversial agreements (in Mexico) has been the opening of PEMEX and the CFE (National Electric Commission to private and foreign investors and contractors.

NAFTA also obligates all entrants to apply standards in a nondiscriminatory manner to both imported or domestically produced goods and services. All three countries now work with equal footing to develop new standards and notice needs to be given before any new standards or regulations go into effect.

Testing laboratories from all three countries may also be accredited within neighboring countries to ensure common standards across borders and such that no country may apply an unfair standard to another.  New entrants into the Mexican marketplace will find most standards and specifications much closer than they had been in the past. There are areas for improvement, but by and large Mexico’s progress, especially since NAFTA, has been significant and is expected to continue to improve.

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