The Specialty Market Equipment Association is fighting regulations in Mexico and Venezuela that it said essentially would close those markets to exporters of wheels and rims.
In Mexico, the Ministry of Economy issued a proposal Nov. 15 to require what SEMA considers unnecessary and prohibitively expensive testing in accredited Mexican laboratories for all wheels and rims that enter Mexico.
The new proposal is actually an improvement over what the Ministry of Economy tried to promulgate earlier, according to Linda Spencer, SEMA director of international and government relations.
``This latest proposal mandates labels to show compliance with the testing requirements rather than having that information molded into the wheels, and that's a significant change,'' she said.
Nevertheless, the rule would still do little other than create a barrier to imported wheels and rims in Mexico, Ms. Spencer said.
``Unlike the first proposal, where they tried to create a new testing standard, with the new one they tried to go with an existing standard,'' she said. ``But the standard they picked is for used products, meaning that new rims from outside Mexico would be likened to second-hand rims.''
Another Mexican government agency-COFEMER, the Mexican Commission for Regulatory Improvement-already has said officially that the use of a ``used products'' standard for new wheels and rims is inappropriate and unworkable, Ms. Spencer said.
SEMA has submitted comments to the Ministry of Economy suggesting alternatives to the proposed regulation. Mexico should adhere to the internationally recognized International Standards Organization standards on wheels and rims, and also should accept the findings of international testing facilities on imported wheels and rims, the association said.
The situation in Venezuela is even more troublesome for wheel and rim exporters, Ms. Spencer said, in that Venezuela simply issued testing requirements for foreign wheels and rims without consulting other nations. This violates the rules of the World Trade Organization, which requires all member nations to allow comment on laws that could affect trade.
``The standard is in effect, but there will be a concerted effort to fight it, considering we never had a chance to comment on it,'' she said.