Commerce Department officials discuss ending cement tariff

An end to the U.S. cement crisis may be near.

Commerce Department officials have discussed an agreement with their Mexican counterparts that would end the current 55 percent duty in three years, according to the Associated General Contractors of America. Before 2009, a much lower duty would apply, the trade group said.

“An agreement to end the anti-dumping duty on Mexican cement would be a major step toward resolving a problem that threatens to impede recovery from the hurricanes and economic growth nationwide,” Stephen Sandherr, chief executive of AGC, wrote in a letter to Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez.

Along with the decreased tariff that would apply for the next three years, there would be an import quota of 3 million metric tons per year. AGC said any quota should not be absolute, but should allow for imports in excess of the quota to occur at a higher duty rate.

“There is no valid reason to impose an absolute quota on cement when U.S. producers are selling every ton they make,” Sandherr said.