Firms To Watch: International trade and customs

Guadalajara-headquartered firm Cuesta Campos y Asociados S.C.' offering includes regulatory compliance, IMMEX and PROSEC programmes, free trade agreements, tariff classification and customs valuation; Alejandro Martínez is the main contact.

International trade and customs in Mexico

Baker McKenzie Abogados, S.C.

Baker McKenzie Abogados, S.C. 's sizeable team of professionals -located in five offices covering Mexico's five main economic hubs- wholly dedicated to customs matters such as export controls and sanctions, anti-dumping and WTO matters, and customs planning, has seen the Mexican practice of the international giant establish itself as a force to be reckoned with in this sector. The department is led by an experienced partner-duo comprised of Mexico City-based Adriana Ibarra, who is particularly well-versed in handling verifications of origin, drawing from her previous experience at the Mexican Ministry of Economy where she also participated in the negotiation of several FTAs; and Ciudad Juarez's Manuel Padrón, who also coordinates the firm's wider Latin America practice group, and specialises in the maquiladora industry. Other key contacts include José Hoyos, who offers notable experience in free trade agreements and regulatory matters; Armando De Lille-Calatayud, who has a focus on tax audits for Mexican and multinational businesses, and also boasts good litigation capabilities; and Jorge Ambriz, who handles litigation and antidumping cases. The trio operate from Mexico City, Monterrey and Ciudad Juarez, respectively. Mexico City's Andrea Dieguez, who was promoted to counsel in January 2022 is another name to note.

Practice head(s):

Manuel Padrón-Castillo; Adriana Ibarra-Fernández

Key clients

Hubbell Inc

Work highlights

  • Assisted Hubbell Group with the sale of its commercial and industrial lighting business to GE Current (Daintree Company), specifically on the migration of the IMMEX (Maquila) operations in Mexico, to unify the manufacturing operations of the lighting line in the IMMEX companies sold as part of the deal.

Chevez Ruiz Zamarripa

Operating in perfect harmony with the firm's revered tax department, the international trade group at Chevez Ruiz Zamarripa assists clients with a variety of matters, including tariff classification of goods for import or export; customs valuation, restrictions and non-tariff regulations; audits by tax or customs authorities; the analysis of legal risks in the supply chain, and for litigation against acts and decisions made by the tax and customs authorities - a segment where the practice has considerable prowess. Guillermo Sánchez, a skilled litigator with solid knowledge of the maquiladora industry; and Ricardo Romero, who is well-versed in commercial remedies -antidumping, subsidies and safeguard procedures- as well as regulatory affairs related to imports and exports, co-head the practice. Eduardo Díaz, who focuses on free trade agreements, World Trade Organisation agreements, defence against unfair trade practices -dumping and subsidies-, and antitrust; and Gerardo Canseco (maquila operations, tariff classification/customs valuation, FTAs, contractual supply chain and antidumping procedures), are other names to note. Former fellow partner Jorge Sánchez   joined Deloitte in January 2022.

Practice head(s):

Guillermo Sanchez; Ricardo Romero

Work highlights

  • Prepared and submitted an antidumping investigation petition on behalf of IDESA, as a domestic producer of triethanolamine, against imports of the same product from the United States.
  • Through litigation, defended the interests of a company due to the imposition of a tax credit for the importation of certain equipment applying tariff preferences in accordance with NAFTA, obtaining a favourable result for the company.
  • Advised a company during an audit initiated by the Mexican tax authorities regarding five fiscal years.

EC Rubio

EC Rubio 's international trade offering covers a broad range of matters, and is respected for its knowledge of anti-dumping, countervailing duties, and safeguard measures, while also offering solid expertise in trade remedies, IMMEX, Prosec, export promotion programs, rules of origin, and customs and origin audits. Name partners include Mexico City's Eduardo David and Juan Carlos Partida, along with Fernando Holguín and Felipe Mendoza in Ciudad Juárez.

Sánchez Devanny

Lauded for its ‘extensive experience in the efficient and practical resolution of complex foreign trade issues’, Sánchez Devanny‘s international trade and customs offering draws on the proven expertise of its partners in the sector. Praised for her ‘great dedication’, Turenna Ramirez is well-versed in customs compliance programs, customs audits, customs and tax litigation, international treaties (including USMCA), export promotion programs (including IMMEX) and verification-of-origin processes. Fellow specialist José Alberto Campos focuses on the tax aspects of foreign trade and customs, as well as on tariff and non-tariff requirements and export controls, and offers significant experience in FTAs executed by Mexico. Eduardo Sotelo, a skilled litigator whose experience also encompasses NAFTA verifications-of-origin, tariff classification, rules of origin, export controls, and import and export regimes, and has additional experience of non-tariff regulations and restrictions, completes the solid Mexico City-based trio in charge of the practice. The team houses particular expertise in the chemicals, automotive, food and beverages, cosmetics, medical devices, pharmaceutical products, alcohol and tobacco, textile and footwear sectors.

Practice head(s):

Turenna Ramirez; José Alberto Campos; Eduardo Sotelo

Testimonials

‘The team is very professional, with extensive knowledge of the international market and good connections with Mexican government authorities.

‘I consider the capacity, preparation and good treatment of the people of Sanchez Devanny to be a strength.

‘Extensive experience in the efficient and practical resolution of complex foreign trade issues. They assisted us with the resolution of various export permits aimed at the United States market. It was very complex. A litigation strategy had to be developed, reconstruction of all our files for the preparation of the corresponding requests and a high-level approach to the Ministry of Economy to resolve the new requests.

‘Turenna Ramírez is a business-oriented lawyer who understands the underlying problems, the needs of the company and seek comprehensive legal solutions in a clear and pragmatic way, which is very important and valuable for companies that require efficient and timely solutions. We greatly appreciate the great dedication of Turenna Ramírez, as well as her extraordinary hard and soft skills in this field.

Key clients

Niagara Bottling / Embotelladora Niagara De Mexico

American Eagle Outfitters

Mannesmman Precision Tubes Mexico

Bredero Shaw Mexico

Ainsworth Game Technology

New York Airbrake Corporation

Gta Textiles

Marubeni De Mexico

Nippon Seiki De Mexico

Essity Higiene Y Salud

Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems

Grupo Embotellador Pepsico

Bay Wa

Borg Warner

Hamilton Beach / Procor Silex

British American Tobacco

Yanbal

Work highlights

  • Representing Ainsworth Game Technology, in a NAFTA origin verification before the Tax Administration Service.
  • Advised a client in connection with possible alternatives for the importation of raw materials used in the manufacturing of finished food products.
  • Advised a client and represented it in litigation in connection with the requirements to import diverse raw materials and finished goods subject to import requirements by the Mexican Ministry of Health and Ministry of Agriculture.

Vázquez Tercero & Zepeda

A well-established name in the international trade sphere, Vázquez Tercero & Zepeda offers extensive expertise regarding anti-dumping investigations and the maquiladora industry. The practice's client roster showcases constant activity - particularly with players from the Asian market. Key contacts include trade-disputes expert Adrián Vázquez; Emilio Arteaga in Mexico City, and  Guadalajara's Eduardo González.

Galicia Abogados S.C.

Galicia Abogados S.C. fields a thriving practice which continues to gain increasing profile in the international trade and customs sphere as a result of its assistance to multinational and Mexican companies looking to implement mechanisms to facilitate the manufacturing, importation and exportation of goods - such as the IMMEX and PROSEC Programs, OEA, quotas, certifications, licenses, and import and export permits. The group led by Daniel Amézquita and younger partner Mario Valencia also actively participates in antidumping and subsidies investigations, as well as safeguarding measures before the investigating authorities; litigation and arbitration processes regarding international trade; and boasts a robust knowledge of the rules and regulations applicable to the international trade of goods and services in accordance with WTO guidelines. José Andrés Muñiz, who has strong experience advising domestic and international clients on import and export regulations; while Fernando Rodriguez and Sheidel Francioli provide key support at associate level. The energy, pharmaceutical, automotive, telecommunications, chemical, e-commerce and retail industries stand as the group's mainstay sectors.

Practice head(s):

Mario Valencia; Daniel Amézquita

Key clients

Stepan Mexico

Hispacun

New Fortress Energy

BayWa r.e. Solar Systems

Exel Solar

ChyronHego Corporation

Sparber Group

Kodak Mexicana

Vestas WTG México

Purolite Mexico

FCA Mexico

Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology

Poet

Carrier Mexico

Viakem

Amazon Mexico

AT&T Mexico

MRS Allergy Solutions

Sunpower Corporation

Tata Consultancy Services

Work highlights

  • Representing Stepan Mexico in an antidumping investigation against the importation of triethanolamine from the United States of America.
  • Advising Kodak Mexicana on obtaining a Service Program under the Manufacturing and Maquila Regulations (IMMEX Program) so as to secure the application of preferential Value Added Tax (VAT) rates in the services rendered by the client to foreign suppliers.
  • Advising New Fortress Energy on the regulatory (energy) and international trade requirements for the construction of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal at the port of Pichilingue, Baja California Sur, Mexico.

Jáuregui y Del Valle, S.C.

Jáuregui y Del Valle, S.C.´s international trade practice earns plaudits for its  ‘extensive knowledge of the matter’ and remains a first-class group for advice on a wide array of matters, including litigation, market access, trade policy, multilateral and bilateral trade agreements, customs compliance, trade compliance and trade remedies. Department-head David Hurtado is recognised as one of the key names in this sector, and is lauded for his expertise in both consulting and litigation regarding international trade and customs, with an emphasis on antidumping and countervailing duties. Hurtado is particularly active with clients from the pharmaceutical, automotive, farming, food and beverages, and electronics industries. Senior associate Julia García De Acevedo offers additional key expertise in dumping, customs and health-related international commerce.

Practice head(s):

David Hurtado Badiola

Testimonials

‘Availability of lawyers to attend to the client’s doubts at all times.

‘They offer extensive knowledge of the matter, in addition to personalised and timely attention.

Key clients

Almidones Mexicanos

FXI de Juárez

Akin Grump Strauss Hauer & Feld (HEB and Johnson & Johnson matters)

Ryerson Metals de México

Mount Vernon Mills

Ferrero de México

Venable

Berwind Corporation

Synergy CHC

Work highlights

  • Advising Almidones Mexicanos on trade-related matters with regards to potential impact of USMCA and other international agreements, alongside Value Added Tax applicable to imports of food into Mexico.
  • Advising Mount Vernon Mills with regard to a large dispute on textile imports involving customs matters.
  • Advising Ferrero de México in trade, customs and health labelling, matters regarding the importation and exportation of chocolates and other products.

SAI Derecho & Economía S.C

Boasting over 25 years’ experience in international trade matters garnered through positions and experience garnered in both the public and private sectors, department-head Beatriz Leycegui Gardoqui steers the practice at SAI Derecho & Economía S.C. The group is frequently sought out for its impressive knowledge of free trade agreements (particularly NAFTA / USMCA), as well as for its prowess in anti-dumping-related mandates. The team, which endured the departure of senior associate María Cristina Hernández in December 2021, has a good track record advising domestic and foreign companies regarding the negotiation, implementation and protection (including pursuant to international arbitration proceedings) provided for under free trade agreements and bilateral investment treaties; and supporting governments (at the federal, state and foreign levels) in the negotiation of these instruments.

Practice head(s):

Beatriz Leycegui Gardoqui

Key clients

Amerra Capital Management

CMSA

Work highlights

  • Advised Amerra Capital Management and other disputing investors on the initiation of an arbitration proceeding against the United Mexican States, with respect to the Mexican judiciary’s possible violation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
  • Advised CMSA and its Mexican subsidiary, Contecon Manzanillo, on the initiation of an arbitration proceeding against the United Mexican States, for the Mexican Government’s potential violations to the Bilateral Investment Treaty between Netherlands and Mexico.

Basham, Ringe y Correa, S.C.

Regarded by clients as ‘experts on the subject’, Basham, Ringe y Correa, S.C.‘s international trade and customs practice is led by the accomplished Sergio Barajas, whose broad professional experience covers tax litigation, consulting, tax planning of operational structures, tax strategies related to customs and foreign trade matters, IMMEX program, customs compliance, non-tariff regulations and restrictions, tariff classification, customs valuation and anti-dumping proceedings. Raised to the partnership in October 2022, the Monterrey-based Roberto Serraldestands out as a key member of the team’; he is experienced in compliance and customs matters, including tax-customs litigation procedures and remedies, tariff classification, valuation, NAFTA and other free trade agreements. The manufacturing, chemicals, automotive, and industrial sectors account for a significant proportion of the team’s caseload. Senior associate Priscila Angel left the firm in December 2021 to join Deloitte.

Practice head(s):

Sergio Barajas

Testimonials

The firm compares favorably with other firms due to the relationship, communication, level of attention, empathy, sense of urgency and extensive knowledge of the subject.

‘Experts on the subject, good network of contacts. Roberto Serralde stands out as a key member of the team.

Key clients

Grupo Idealsa

Tesa Tape

IMM Research México

Work highlights

  • Advised Grupo Idealsa on the feasibility analysis and obtaining the authorisations for a plant for producing vegetable oils, juices, and dairy products, as well as carrying out the origins analysis for the products to be manufactured in Mexico.
  • Representing Tesa Tape México in a nullity claim with the tax court to contest an assessment from the Customs authorities regarding an increase of the value of the goods imported into Mexico.

Hogan Lovells

Hogan Lovells' international trade and customs group comprises ‘specialists in the field’ who garner praise for their ‘excellent communication and customer service’. Partners Juan Francisco Torres Landa and Mario Jorge Yañez are in charge of steering the international trade practice, which boasts a solid track record advising in complex anti-dumping investigations in Mexico; while Arturo Tiburcio leads the customs practice, which covers advisory and consultation work, administrative procedures, and litigation. The department, which services clients in a wide array of industries such as food and beverage, automotive, electronics, steel, chemicals, and aviation, includes other notable practitioners, primarily senior associate Mario Lara, who is particularly skilled in tariff classification, customs compliance and regulations, and anti-dumping matters; and associate Brianda Ramirez.

Practice head(s):

Jorge Yáñez; Juan Francisco Torres Landa; Arturo Tiburcio

Testimonials

‘Great availability and communication with the client to follow up on matters and deal with particular doubts.’

Specialists in the field. Very good synergy in the setting of strategy and follow-up of matters. Excellent communication and customer service.’

Key clients

Red Bull México

MTD Products

Sage Automotive Interiors

AdvanSix Resins & Chemicals

Harman de México

Lion Supply

Ternium México

Idexx Operations / Idexx Laboratories

Sidertul

BCI Surface Technologies Mexico

Proveedores de Ingeniería Alimentaria

Cerraduras y Candados Phillips

Nissin Foods de México

Work highlights

  • Assisted Red Bull Mexico on a tax strategy to avoid paying Excise Tax on the importation of energy drinks into Mexico.  
  • Representing MTD Products Company in a nullity claim against a NAFTA Verification Procedure resolution of tax years 2015 and 2016, issued by the Mexican Revenue Service.
  • Representing Sage Automotive Interiors Mexico and Sage de San Luis Potosí (as importers) in an anti-dumping investigation regarding imports of textured polyester textile filament from the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of India.  

Holland & Knight

Holland & Knight's international trade and customs practice merits praise for its ‘specialised knowledge in foreign trade and exceptional service’. With over 30 years' experience behind him, Luis Rubio heads the department. He represents domestic and international corporations, trade associations, and the Mexican Government in complex regulatory matters and international trade proceedings. Carlos Vejar, whose professional experience includes over two decades at the Mexican Ministry of Economy, advises on trade strategies, regulatory compliance, unfair trade practices, customs procedures, and commercial, private and international trade arbitration matters. Associates Josafat Paredes and Maria Teresa Quintero are additional names to note.

Practice head(s):

Luis Rubio; Carlos Véjar

Testimonials

‘The specialised knowledge in foreign trade and exceptional service. In terms of strengths, it seems to me that they have an appropriate risk calibration. I think what makes H&K really exceptional is its relationship with its customers.’

‘Good risk calibration and good availability/participation of its partners.’

Key clients

Amazon

Dufry

Ashcroft

Work highlights

  • Advised Amazon on customs and regulatory issues derived from the importation of goods.
  • Advised Dufry on trade and corporate matters before customs and airport authorities.
  • Advised Ashcroft on the process of incorporating a new company and obtaining IMMEX authorisation and VAT certification valued at $1.45m in 2020 and $3.24m in 2021.

Ramos, Ripoll & Schuster

Operating from its main headquarters in Mexico City and its office in Veracruz, Ramos, Ripoll & Schuster's practice offers a ‘mix of experienced and younger lawyers’, who are well-known for their expertise across an array of customs and international trade matters. Edmundo Elías Fernández, whose experience encompasses a variety of sectors and industries -such as maquiladoras, pharma, life sciences, automotive, consumer products and information technology- heads the department. Elías is well-versed in matters related to trade agreements, duty relief programs, customs compliance, government affairs, tariff classification, customs valuation, rules of origin and non-tariff regulations. Ruben Darío Gómez provides additional expertise on the contentious side of the practice involving international trade proceedings and litigation. Former associate Pablo Licéaga left in March 2021 to establish his own firm.

Practice head(s):

Edmundo Elías-Fernández

Testimonials

‘Seniority, stability of those responsible and knowledge.

‘The offer a mix of experienced and younger lawyers.

‘The level of experience allows the complexity of the matter to be translated into clear and simple actions for the business.

‘Edmundo Elias Fernández’s technical knowledge coupled with his global approach, makes it easy for us to communicate with the local and global team, as well as the execution of cross-border transactions.

Key clients

Tupperware

Clarience Technologies

SIG Combibloc Mexico

Saverglass

Delphi Technologies, which recently merged with BorgWarner

Fresenius Kabi de México

Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology

IEE Sensing GDL

Emerson Electric Co

Fruit of the Loom

Work highlights

  • Assisting Fruit of the Loom’s Mexican subsidiaries with a self-correction process following the General Administration of Foreign Trade Audits of the Tax Administration Service, eliminating the payment of fines and penalties.
  • Advised Regal Beloit in connection with its acquisition of Rexnord, involving assessment regarding compliance in customs and trade matters.
  • Assisted Saverglass with a revocation recourse before the Tax Administration Service, against the denial of the refund of Value Added Tax related to imports.

Von Wobeser y Sierra, SC

Luis Miguel Jiménez heads the seven-strong practice at Von Wobeser y Sierra, SC, which has a particularly strong focus on the automotive sector, and is known for its experience in the IMMEX and maquiladora segment. Jimenez brings to bear additional expertise in customs operations, NAFTA and other FTAs, and associated tax and regulatory matters; while also representing clients in tax audits and verification processes and litigation before the tax and administrative courts. The team was reinforced with the promotion to counsel of Lourdes Salazar in January 2022 and the hire of associate Miguel Concha in 2021. Salazar, who ‘stands out for her good attitude’, handles a variety of matters related to IMMEX and Prosec programmes, as well as handling VAT certifications.

Practice head(s):

Luis Miguel Jiménez

Testimonials

They always offer a prompt response.’

Maria de Lourdes Salazar stands out for her good attitude.’

Key clients

Anastacio Overseas

Benteler de México

BPI Brake Manufacturing Juárez

BPI Breaking Systems México

BMW de México

Carcoustics

Cintas Corporation

Ensambles de Coahuila

Erika de Reynosa

First Brands Group

Franklin Electric

Freudenberg North America

Huawei México

IMI USA Inc.

Limex Formado y Decorado

Polaris Industries Inc.

TK Global

Wiegand

Yokohama Industries Américas de México

Work highlights

  • Advised and represented Franklin Electric and its Mexican subsidiary (Mesmex) on successfully extending its IMMEX program to register a new productive facility.
  • Advised Takata de Mexico on the reconstruction of the company’s IMMEX Management Inventory Control System (Annex 24) and its VAT Certification (Annex 31) as a prior step for winding down.
  • Advised Limex Formado y Decorado on an antidumping investigation in connection with the importing into Mexico of specially designed stainless-steel merchandise originating from China and Taiwan.  

A. Michel

Specialised boutique A. Michel handles contentious and non-contentious matters related to customs obligations, anti-dumping investigations and the coordination and implementation of foreign trade and customs strategies. Managing partner Alexis Michel is the main contact.

López Portillo Consultores, S.C.

Undoubtedly punching above its weight, boutique firm López Portillo Consultores, S.C. is very much on the shoulder of the firms in higher tiers, its more limited volume not impacting its high-quality work product, particularly when it comes to anti-dumping matters. Managing partner Horacio López Portillo, a ‘cathedral of knowledge and experience when it comes to international trade and customs in Mexico’, also shows prowess handling customs and tax litigation cases, as well as in representing clients before the relevant customs, trade and tax enforcement agencies, appellate bodies and alternative dispute resolution boards based on WTO and NAFTA rules.

Practice head(s):

Horacio López Portillo

Testimonials

‘Horacio was fantastic. He and his team respond quickly to all questions and concerns in a very professional manner.

‘Horacio Lopez Portillo is a cathedral of knowledge and experience when it comes to international trade and customs in Mexico. His acquaintance with former and current officials from the federal government in highly technical areas (anti-dumping, tariffs, international trade agreements) and with several Customs Agents across the country allow him to move swiftly and safely for providing good solid legal advice and also to implement it rapidly.

‘The size of the firm favors personal attention to detail and fast responses. The fees are beyond reasonable, considering that the few lawyers that equal Horacio´s expertise are, for the most part, with international or large law firms whose overhead costs prevent them to compete with López Portillo Consultores.’

Key clients

Halliburton Company

POSCO

Fabrictech 2000 (PureCare®)

Welspun Corp

OFS Fitel

Mitsubishi Electronics US

Global Law Office

Preneal

Work highlights

  • Represented Halliburton Company during an ongoing NAFTA origin verification procedure including the subsequent administrative and judicial review of findings.
  • Providing foreign trade advisory services to POSCO as well as its Mexican affiliates, including day-to-day matters.
  • Provided foreign trade advisory services to Mitsubishi Electric US, as well as its Mexican affiliates, including on day-to-day matters.

Santamarina y Steta

Very knowledgeable about foreign trade matters’ is how a client describes Santamarina y Steta's practice, which offers a comprehensive advisory service which combines foreign trade and tax advice. Following the retirement of Ernesto Duhne , the practice is now solely headed by Alejandro Luna, who has a particular focus on the manufacturing, pharmaceutical, medical device, food and retail industries, advising primarily on import and supply chain strategies, customs consultations, and import and export strategies of products. Associate Michel Zelaya, who specialises in international trade and anti-dumping matters, is also noted.

Practice head(s):

Alejandro Luna; Mariano Calderón

Testimonials

‘They are very knowledgeable about foreign trade matters. The attention of their staff is very friendly and very good, the attitude of service is something that characterises them.

‘Their knowledge and customer service stand out, so does the willingness to always support the client and provide solutions.

Key clients

General Motors

General Motors México

Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies Corporation

Siemens Energy

ITW Food Equipment

ACH Foods México

TWB de México

New Balance Athletics

Precision Pulley & Idler

Sucden Americas Corporation

Work highlights

  • Assisting Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies Corporation comply with the subcontracting reform by merging two of the group’s Mexican entities.
  • Mexican Customs authority required Moldex’s distributors to comply with a NOM that was not considered for the 4200 N95 Air Wave Series Particulate Respirators that were imported into Mexico; the team assisted Moldex so its distributors did not have  to comply with the NOM.
  • Advised TWB de Mexico regarding the automotive labour content requirement that a vehicle producer would need to comply for a passenger vehicle to be considered as having originated from the North America region under the USMCA agreement.