Mexico May Penalize Past Lube Imports


The Independent Lubricant Manufacturers Association warned members this week that the Mexican government is auditing lubricant and base oil imports from the United States and is threatening to assess punitive duties against products for which adequate documentation is not shown.

Exporters that do not show that their products met content regulations could receive bills for more than 38 percent of the value of shipments to Mexico between 2000 and 2001, according to an article in yesterdays issue of the associations online newsletter Flashpoint.

ILMA said the audit is being conducted by the Mexican customs agency Hacienda, which sent letters in January to exporters of base oils, finished lubricants and certain other refined products to Mexico. The letters seek information in an effort to determine whether products that crossed the border in 2000 and 2001 complied with rules of origin established by the North American Free Trade Agreement.

ILMA stated that certification is difficult because the rules applying to lubricants prohibit use of semi-refined feed- or blending stock obtained from an outside source – in some cases even sporadic use of in-haul residual bottoms, vacuum gas oil or naphtha.

ILMA said exporters also face problems due to the manner in which Hacienda is contacting them. The January letters, as well as follow-ups mailed this month, were in some cases addressed to shipping, sales or marketing offices and may not be reaching employees in charge of compliance. In addition, the letters are written in Spanish and do not identify particular shipments.

The letters sent this month were final notices and gave recipients until May 10 to respond. In cases where exporters fail to document product compliance, importers could face demands for duties, penalties amounting to 150 percent of those duties, plus interest. Finished lubricants judged out of compliance would be subject to a duty of 18 percent, instead of the NAFTA duty, which was 4.5 percent in 2000 and 3 percent in 2001. For exporters that received blanket certifications, this could affect every delivery during that time period.

While Hacienda would deal with Mexican importers, those importers might be able to seek reimbursement from exporters or producers, depending on their contractual relationships.

ILMA advised any members that exported to Mexico during 2000 or 2001 to determine if Hacienda sent letters to them and, if so, to respond quickly to the customs agency. For more information, see

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