WASHINGTON-Mexico's commerce department announced July 24 it will allow the importation of a limited number of used tires for use on vehicles and in retreading, ending a year-long ban. The announcement from the Secretaria de Comercio y Fomento Industrial (SECOFI) stated that used tire imports from the U.S. will be kept at a quota of 570,000 for the western Mexican border state of Baja California; 75,000 for Baja California Sur; and 52,000 for the eastern border state of Sonora.
SECOFI's reason for suspending used tire imports was environmental. There were concerns about the formation of scrap tire piles and the possibility that Asian tiger mosquitoes could breed in stagnant water collecting in waste tires.
``Originally there were concerns about the level of used tires exported to Mexico,'' said Richard Gust, vice president of sales for Lakin-General Inc. ``The Mexican government thought they were scrap tires of no value.''
The government of Baja California, however, presented a study to the Instituto Nacional de Ecologia, showing that quotas could minimize any possible environmental impact from the used tires, SECOFI said.
SECOFI may have had motives other than environmental protection in suspending used tire imports, according to John Serumgard, chairman of the Scrap Tire Management Council.
Many Latin American countries have banned used tire imports ``either to protect their new-tire industry or avoid problems with tires that were never manufactured or sold in their countries,'' Mr. Serumgard said. ``In Mexico, the ban may have had several mothers.''
Mexico presents ``a wonderful opportunity'' for good used tires, and not just for retreading, Mr. Gust said. ``The U.S. should look at the market for quality used tires-tires with some tread left on them. They are environmentally sound, because they still have some service left.''
Even worn-out used tires are useful, Mr. Serumgard said. CEMEX, Mexico's largest cement producer, is interested in using scrap tires as fuel for its kilns, he said.