WASHINGTON-Negotiations between the U.S. and Mexico on certification testing for U.S.-made tires destined for distribution in Mexico are back on track, U.S. sources said. Early in November, Mexican authorities indicated in a letter to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) they would not accept a compromise offered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
NHTSA had proposed that the Mexican government allow U.S. tires with Transportation Department certification into Mexico without requiring duplicate testing in Mexican laboratories.
This requirement, announced last year by SECOFI, the Mexican Commerce Department, caused complaints from U.S. tire makers and distributors who found their tires turned back from Mexico.
After further meetings with USTR and NHTSA officials, however, the Mexican government sent a Dec. 11 letter to USTR. USTR spokespersons declined to release the letter, saying it required further clarification. But the apparent gist of the letter is that Mexico may soon accept DOT-approved tires.
Besides the testing requirement, the SECOFI rule also required tire makers to mold safety information on tire sidewalls in Spanish. In a separate move, SECOFI proposed earlier this year-in Mexico's equivalent to the Federal Register-to accept Spanish safety information on adhesive labels, as U.S. tire makers had requested.
The deadline for comments on the adhesive label proposal is early in January, according to Peter J. Pantuso, vice president of government affairs for the Rubber Manufacturers Association.
The National Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association is not watching the issue as closely.
``For the last several months, we have received not one complaint from our members regarding this issue,'' said Donald T. Wilson, NTDRA director of government relations. ``Earlier, we got some. But I think now it's become more of a matter for tire makers.''