On May 5, 2020, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (“AMLO”) announced new measures to resume automotive manufacturing, mining, and construction activities amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Mexican Minister of Economy Graciela Márquez Colín announced on May 13 a new plan to re-open the economy in three stages. The first stage of the plan is set to begin on May 18 in those municipalities where no new COVID-19 infection cases have been reported. The second stage is occur between May 18-31 and is focused on preparing workers, companies, and families in general for a return to work, subject to region-specific situations. In the second stage, Mexico will also include as essential sectors: construction, mining and the manufacture of transportation equipment, subject to strict health protocols. The third stage will begin on June 1, and focuses on a “traffic light”-like system for a phased re-opening – similar to the United States – that accounts for: (1) public health measures, (2) defined work activities, (3) protecting vulnerable people, (4) open and closed public spaces, and (5) educational facilities. The first phase (“red light”) allows essential businesses to operate but continues restrictions on non-essential businesses and social activities. The last phase (“green light”) allows for re-opening of schools and a resumption of social and recreational activities.
Mexico is preparing for the phased re-opening at all levels (federal to state/local governments), while also preparing for the entry into force of the Tratado entre México, Estados Unidos y Canadá (T-MEC) or the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which is effective July 1. Mexico has been in close communication with the United States on both the supply chain concerns (essential vs. non-essential businesses) and implementation of T-MEC/USMCA. Minister Márquez Colín confirmed this week that she spoke with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on Monday and with U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross last Friday.
On May 11, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced it had opened the USMCA Center in Washington, D.C., that will serve as a central communication hub for CBP and the private sector, including merchants, brokers, freight forwarders and producers, and toward ensuring a smooth and efficient transition to work in the implantation of the accord. The USMCA Center will be staffed with experts from operational, legal, trade policy and logistics specialists. It will also provide a direct communication channel with Mexico and Canada. The center is expected to address issues such as regulatory changes, automation changes that will occur within cargo systems, rules-of-origin changes, and the new labor laws enacted by the USMCA.
Acting U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf visited the U.S. Southwest border on Wednesday, May 13, to view progress on the wall construction and the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border. In interactions with the media, he noted COVID-related restrictions for non-essential travel across the border that are currently in place via a March 21 agreement with Mexico are likely to be extended beyond May 21. Acting Secretary Wolf also suggested restrictions could be further tightened in light of increased COVID-19 cases across the border. Currently, non-essential travel restrictions do not apply to U.S. citizens that live in Mexico and are crossing into the United States seeking medical care. The Acting Secretary stated he would consult with Dr. Alexander Eastman, the senior medical officer for operations at Homeland Security, for recommendations on addressing the COVID-19 pandemic in the border region.
See here an official briefing document issued by the Embassy of Mexico in Washington DC summarizing Mexico’s reopening strategy at this time.