copy the linklink copied!1. The organisation of the implementation and enforcement of technical regulations in Mexico: framework and actors

Abstract

This chapter outlines the legal and institutional context for the implementation and enforcement of technical regulations in Mexico. It provides an overview of the Mexico’s standardisation and metrology system, describing the main laws and policies that govern technical regulations and the institutions that are involved in their development, implementation and enforcement.

    

copy the linklink copied!Introduction

The Mexican Technical Regulations and Standardisation System is underpinned by the Federal Metrology and Standardisation Law (Ley Federal sobre Metrología y Normalización, LFMN), passed in 1992 in a context of increasing trade and economic integration in Mexico. Since its creation, the LFMN has been subject to a number of amendments. Following the adoption of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994, the LFMN was modify in 1997 to align the Mexican standardisation system to the frameworks of its main trade partners: the United States and Canada. Since 2017, Congress has been discussing a reform proposal that seeks to reduce the timeframes for development and revision of NOMs and to ensure better quality of conformity assessment procedures.

Together with the LFMN, the default regime for the implementation and enforcement of NOMs is governed by the Federal Law of Administrative Procedure (Ley Federal de Procedimiento Administrativo, LFPA) and certain provisions in the Consumer Protection Law (Ley Federal de Protección al Consumidor, LFPC), the new General Law on Regulatory Improvement and the Law on Foreign Trade. However, in certain sectors special laws create alternative regimes for technical regulations under the purview of decentralised and deconcentrated government authorities.

To understand the context of the implementation and enforcement of technical regulations in Mexico, this chapter identifies the main laws and policies that govern NOMs and the institutions that are involved in their development, implementation and enforcement. The process is mainly co-ordinated by the Ministry of Economy (Secretaría de Economía, SE) through its General Bureau of Standards (DGN) but it involves numerous additional stakeholders that include public sector bodies with powers to issue and implement NOMs, technical entities and firms from a range of industry sectors.

copy the linklink copied!The legal frameworks governing the implementation and enforcement of NOMs in Mexico

The default system for implementation and enforcement of NOMs is spearheaded by the LFMN together with its Regulation (Reglamento de la Ley Federal sobre Metrología y Normalización, RLFMN). Specific actions on inspections are regulated by the LFPA and the LFPC. In addition to these three laws, both the new General Law on Regulatory Improvement and the Law on Foreign Trade include provisions related to the enforcement of NOMs.

This default system is applicable only to the extent that there is no special law governing the implementation and enforcement of NOMs. In certain sectors, special laws supersede the provisions of the default regime and create alternative regimes for decentralised and deconcentrated government authorities. This is for instance the case of NOMs applicable under the General Health Law.

The legislation for implementation and enforcement of NOMs

The Federal Law on Metrology and Standardisation (Ley General sobre Metrología y Normalización, LFMN) is the backbone of the Mexican Technical Regulations system. The system set-up in the LFMN is structured around four key components (OECD, 2018[1]):

  • Standardisation – for the development of mandatory NOMs and voluntary NMXs;

  • Metrology – for a reliable measurement system;

  • Accreditation – for an adequate competence of certification bodies; and

  • Conformity assessment – for proof of compliance with NOMs and NMXs.

In the area of metrology, the LFMN creates the National Metrology Centre (Centro Nacional de Metrología, CENAM) responsible for maintaining appropriate reference measurement standards at the national level. The law also sets the rules for measurement units and outlines the National Calibration System responsible for the reliability and uniformity of measurements in the country. Finally, the LFMN also establishes the requirements for the manufacture, commercialisation and use of measurement instruments and patterns.

The LFMN outlines the procedures and entities involved in the development and implementation of mandatory NOMs and voluntary NMXs and the related key definitions (Box 1.1). The law introduces: i) an open 60-day consultation process; ii) a biannual forward planning agenda for NOMs and NMXs; and iii) systematic ex post evaluations (at least) every 5 years. In addition, the LFMN regulates the accreditation set-up and the conformity assessment procedures applicable in Mexico. The law sets the powers and duties of the Ministry of Economy and other competent sectoral regulators to oversee compliance with its dispositions and establishes details of the inspection procedures and a framework of sanctions applicable for breaches.

The LFMN is currently under revision, Congress is discussing a proposal to reform the law first presented in 2017. The proposal seeks to reduce the timeframes for development and revision of NOMs and to ensure better quality of conformity assessment procedures.

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Box 1.1. Key concepts in the LFMN
  • NOM. “Mandatory technical regulation issued by the competent regulatory agency for the purposes defined in the LFMN that establishes rules, specifications, attributes, guidelines, characteristics or dispositions applicable to a product, process, facility, system, activity, production or operation service or method, as well as those related to terminology, symbols, packaging, labelling and those concerning their compliance or enforcement.”

  • NMX. “Those developed by a national standardisation body or the Ministry of Economy according to the LFMN, establishing a common and iterative use of rules, specifications, attributes, testing methods, guidelines, characteristics or dispositions applicable to a product, process, facility, system, activity, production or operation service or methods as well as those related to terminology, symbols, packaging, labelling.”

  • Conformity assessment. “Determination of degree of compliance with NOMs or conformity with NMXs, international standards or other specifications, dispositions or characteristics. It includes, among others, the procedures of testing, sampling, calibration, certification and verification.”

  • Accreditation. “Act through which an accreditation entity recognises the technical competence and reliability of certification bodies, testing laboratories, calibration laboratories and verification units for the purposes of conformity assessment.”

  • Certification. “Procedure through which it is ensured that a product, process, system or service adjusts to the rules, guidelines or recommendations or national or international standardisation bodies.”

  • Verification unit. “Individual or entity that performs verification acts.”

  • Verification. “Eye inspection or verification via sampling, measurement, laboratory testing or examination of documents performed for conformity assessment at a given time.”

Source: LFMN, Article 3.

The Federal Law of Administrative Procedure (Ley Federal de Procedimiento Administrativo or LFPA) is the main legal body addressing good regulatory practices in Mexico. It generally governs the inspection activity undertaken by administrative authorities. Chapter Eleven of the LFPA grants these authorities powers to check compliance with laws and regulations and explicitly sets out the inspection requirements that must be observed by public officials. Title Fourth of the LFPA establishes general principles on administrative infractions and sanctions, including a non-exhaustive list of administrative sanctions that authorities may apply and the procedures for appeal such sanctions.

The Federal Consumer Protection Law (Ley Federal de Protección al Consumidor, LFPC) provides the legal framework for consumer protection in Mexico, including consumer’s rights and the corresponding duties of the Ministry of Economy and PROFECO. The LFPC gives the DGN responsibility to develop NOMs and NMXs on a range of issues including, inter alia, product labelling, advertisement and standard-form contracts. In addition, the law empowers PROFECO to oversee compliance with NOMs issued by the Ministry of Economy when no specific sectoral regulator is tasked with the enforcement by a special law or through a specific provision in a NOM.

The Law on Foreign Trade (Ley de Comercio Exterior, LCE) sets the legal framework for Mexico’s trade practices including certain provisions on technical regulations. In particular, it grants the Ministry of Economy with powers to determine the NOMs that custom officials must enforce at entry points and the tariffs applicable to exports covered by NOMs (LCE, article 26). It is noteworthy that the specific legal provisions regarding WTO commitments in the area of regulations (notably notification under SPS and TBT, equivalence and mutual recognition) fall under the LFMN and its bylaw.

The General Law on Regulatory Improvement approved in 2018 establishes the scope and the basis for the development of regulatory policy in Mexico. The law creates the National System on Regulatory Improvement and revamps the role of the CONAMER. The rollout of certain provisions under the law relevant for the enforcement of technical regulations is currently ongoing. The law foresees the creation of a National Registry of Visits (Registro Nacional de Visitas Domiciliarias) that lists all public officials authorised to carry out inspection and verification activities, including on NOMs.

Finally, the Law on Acquisitions, Leases and Services by the Public Sector (Ley de Adquisiciones, Arrendamientos y Servicios del Sector Público) and the Law on Public Works and Related Services (Ley de Obras Publicas y servicios relacionados con las mismas) setting the Mexican public procurement framework provide for compliance with NOMs in public purchases and public works.

Implementation and enforcement of NOMs under specific sectoral laws

Special legal frameworks exist for the implementation and enforcement of NOMs issued by certain decentralised and deconcentrated government authorities. These special regimes are established under sectoral laws and alter some of the regulations that govern the accreditation and/or inspection of NOMs under the LFMN. In practice, they empower specific sectoral regulators to establish conformity assessment processes that diverge from the system under the LFMN or create ad-hoc procedures for the development of instruments similar to NOMs. Table 1.1 includes a list of laws that provide exceptions to the LFMN or set-up special regimes for the implementation and enforcement of NOMs. Table 1.2 summarises some of these special regimes.

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Table 1.1. List of laws with exception to the LFMN or special regimes for implementation and enforcement of NOMs

Name of law

General Health Law

Federal Law on Vegetal Health

Federal Law on Animal Health

General Law on Sustainable Fishing and Aquaculture

Law on Organic Products

Federal Law on Telecommunications and Broadcasting

Hydrocarbons Law and Law of the Coordinated Energy Regulators

Federal Labour Law

Law on Biosafety of Genetically Modified Organisms

Law on Livestock Associations

General Wildlife Law

Federal Law on Sustainable Rural Development

Federal Law on Seed Production, Certification and Trade

Federal Law on Plant Varieties

Law on the Production and Sell of Roasted Coffee

Federal Oceans Law

Law for Sustainable Development of Sugarcane

Public Works and Related Services Law

Intellectual Property Law

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Table 1.2. Summary of selected special regimes for implementation and enforcement of NOMs

 

Sectoral regulator

Law

Scope of special regime

Health

Secretaría de Salud

COFEPRIS

General Health Law

Verification and sampling of products, activities and services regulated by the General Health Law.

Food and agriculture

SADER

SENASICA

Federal Law on Vegetal Health

Federal Law on Animal Health

General Law on Sustainable Fishing and Aquaculture

Law on Organic Products

Certification of products and inspection.

Energy

Agency for Safety, Energy and Environment (ASEA), National Hydrocarbons Commission (CNH), the Energy Regulatory Commission (CRE)

Hydrocarbons Law and Law of the Coordinated Energy Regulators

Inspection of NOMs; and development and inspection of NOM-like instruments (general administrative dispositions).

Telecommunications

Federal Institute on Telecommunications (IFT)

Federal Law on Telecommunications and Broadcasting

Development of NOM-like instruments, the certification and conformity assessment of products, recognition under MRAs and inspection.

Note: General administrative provisions are legal instruments not subject to the LFMN and different from NOMs but at times similar in content.

Source: Author’s own elaboration.

Implementation and enforcement of NOMs in the health sector

The legal framework related to the implementation and enforcement of NOMs in the health sector is provided by the LFMN and LFPA together with the following sectoral laws and regulations:

  • General Health Law (Ley General de Salud, LGS);

  • Regulation of the Federal Commission for the Protection Against Sanitary Risks (Reglamento de la Comisión Federal para la Protección contra Riesgos Sanitarios);

  • Regulation on the Health Control of Products and Services (Reglamento de Control Sanitario de Productos y Servicios); and

  • Regulation on the Health Control of Activities, Facilities Products and Services (Reglamento de la Ley General de Salud en Materia de Control Sanitario de Actividades, Establecimientos, Productos y Servicios).

The LGS sets specific enforcement mechanisms as well as sanctions for non-compliance with health-related NOMs that are recognised under the LFMN as a special regime (LFMN, article 108). The Ministry of Health (Secretaría de Salud, SSA) and Federal Commission for the Protection of Sanitary Risks (Comisión Federal para la Protección Contra Riesgos Sanitarios, COFEPRIS) are responsible for NOMs in the health sector. COFEPRIS oversees the enforcement of four regulations on medical devices, health control of products and services, environmental health and pesticides. In total, COFEPRIS has 81 NOMs under their authority. Further, a number of these NOMs do not embed a specific CAP, since their assessment is performed by the default sanitary inspection and testing mechanisms set forth in the LGS.

Implementation and enforcement of NOMs in the food and agriculture sector

The legal framework applicable to food and agriculture NOMs also recognises exceptions from the default regime under the LFMN and LFPA. This special regime includes, inter alia the following laws:

  • Federal Law on Vegetal Health (Ley Federal de Sanidad Vegetal, LFSV)

  • Federal Law on Animal Health (Ley Federal de Sanidad Animal, LFSA);

  • General Law on Sustainable Fishing and Aquaculture (Ley General de Pesca y Acuacultura Sustentables, LGPAS);

  • Law on Organic Products (Ley de Productos Orgánicos);

  • Law on Bio Safety of Genetically Modified Organisms (Ley de Bioseguridad de Organismos Genéticamente Modificados); and

  • Law on Livestock Organisations (Ley de Organizaciones Ganaderas).

Some of these laws give powers to establish conformity assessment processes outside of the LFMN to the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (Secretaría de Agricultura, y Desarrollo Rural, SADER) through the National Service of Food and Agriculture Health, Safety and Quality (Servicio Nacional de Sanidad Inocuidad y Calidad Agroalimentaria, SENASICA). In use of these powers, SENASICA can authorise special third parties to perform certain assessment techniques. These third parties, known as “Terceros Coadyuvantes”, are specially regulated by SENASICA and not always accredited by EMA. This is the case under the Federal Laws on Animal and Vegetal Health. Similarly, the Law on Organic Products sets forth a special regime for control and certification, noting that the LFMN acts as a supplementary system.

Notably, there is no over-arching food safety law in Mexico governing the entire food chain, whereas the presence of such a law is generally held to be accepted good international practice (Cf. FAO Model Food Law and Codex Alimentarius). Evidence from interviews shows that this corresponds to a situation where some issues, which are important for safety, are not currently subject to clear mandatory regulations. Rather, regulators (in particular SENASICA) have to make do with guidance documents based on international practices and norms. While, overall, technical capacity for enforcement appears stronger in the food sector than in non-food consumer products, the legal framework (NOMs) appears more developed and comprehensive for non-food than for food products.

Implementation and enforcement of NOMs in the energy sector

Following a 2014 reform, Mexico has three regulatory agencies in the energy sector: Agency for Safety, Energy and Environment (Agencia de Seguridad, Energía y Ambiente, ASEA); the National Hydrocarbons Commission (Comisión Nacional de Hidrocarburos, CNH); and the Energy Regulatory Commission (Comisión Reguladora de Energía, CRE). These agencies are empowered under the National Law on Hydrocarbons and the Law of the Coordinated Energy Regulators to develop NOMs or other instruments not governed by the LFMN such as mandatory general administrative provisions (Disposiciones Administrativas de Carácter General, DACGs) similar to NOMs. The CRE oversees the two National Advisory Standardisation Committees (CCNNs) responsible for the development of NOMs on electricity and hydrocarbons, oil resources and petrochemical. ASEA leads the work of the committee responsible for NOMs for industrial safety and environmental protection in the hydrocarbon sector.

The agencies are also tasked with the enforcement of these NOMs and DACGs, yet at times this function can be delegated to authorised third parties that operate under a parallel system from the LFMN. For example, the Electrical Industry Law (Ley de la Industria Eléctrica) provides that verification units accredited under the LFMN are responsible for the demonstration of compliance with certain NOMs whereas inspection units approved by the CRE certify compliance with other types of technical specifications. ASEA has the authority to provide and suspend licenses and authorisations, conduct inspections and quality control, and issue recommendations for corrective action in the area of industrial safety and environmental protection. ASEA also permits inspections from certified third parties who are authorised and evaluated by both ASEA itself and EMA. Third party inspectors may, for example, verify a deep-water oil project’s safety (Garcia, 2017[2]).

Implementation and enforcement of NOMs in the telecommunications sector

The Federal Law on Telecommunications and Broadcasting (Ley Federal de Telecomunicaciones, LFTR) authorises the Federal Institute on Telecommunications (Instituto Federal de Telecomunicaciones, IFT) to issue mandatory technical provisions setting the characteristics of telecommunication and broadcasting products and services as well as the evaluation process and technical requirements needed for the installation of equipment, systems and/or infrastructure. These technical provisions are subject to a development process led by the IFT outside of the LFMN. In addition, the IFT has powers to oversee the implementation and enforcement of these technical dispositions including their certification and other conformity assessment processes as well as the application of mutual recognition agreements (MRAs)1. Since 2013, the IFT has issued 15 technical provisions. For example, IFT-011-2017 establishes the technical specifications for Mobile Terminal Equipment allowed to use of radio spectrum or be connected to telecommunications networks; and sets the test methods to verify compliance with said specifications.2

copy the linklink copied!Institutions involved in the implementation and enforcement of technical regulations in Mexico

A large number of public and private actors are involved in the different components of the Mexican Technical Regulations and Standardisation system. Overall, the system includes 13 sectoral regulators, 15 federal agencies, 10 private entities, 10 national standardisation bodies (responsible for NMXs) and more than 2 800 highly-specialised private entities involved in conformity assessment (Cámara de Diputados del Congreso General de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos, 2017[3]). Table 1.3 summarises the key actors involved in the lifecycle of NOMs in Mexico.

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Table 1.3. Actors involved in the lifecycle of NOMs

Development of NOMs

Metrology

Accreditation

Conformity Assessment Procedures

Regulatory Inspection and/or market surveillance

DGN

CONAMER

Sectoral Regulators

CENAM

EMA

Conformity Assessment Bodies

PROFECO

Civil society and business

Customs

Note: CENAM inspection powers fall over measurement equipment.

Source: Author’s elaboration.

The Ministry of Economy (Secretaría de Economía), through the General Bureau of Standards (Dirección General de Normas, DGN), plays a key role in the Mexican Technical Regulations System with broad responsibilities that include co-ordinating with other entities to secure compliance with the LFMN and overseeing the process for development and implementation of NOMs and NMXs. The Ministry of Economy leads the relationship between the Government and the Mexican Accreditation Entity (EMA).

The DGN leads the National Standardisation Program (PNN), a forward planning agenda for technical regulations and voluntary standards; oversees the adoption of international standards; and is responsible for the 60-day consultation period for NOMs and their 5-year ex post review (Annex A). In addition, it is in charge of maintaining a record of all NOMs, NMXs, ONNs, accreditation entities and accredited and approved organisms. DGN also oversees the conclusion of Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) and Arrangements (MLAs).

On top of its co-ordinating functions, the DGN is also empowered by the LFMN to issue NOMs and oversee their implementation and enforcement. DGN is responsible for 136 NOMs. In addition, the Internal Regulations of the Ministry of Economy give the DGN powers to verify and inspect compliance with metrology and standard-setting regulations and authorising national accreditation entities.3

The National Commission for Regulatory Improvement (Comisión Nacional de Mejora Regulatoria or CONAMER) is the central oversight body for better regulation in Mexico. It is responsible for ensuring the regulatory quality of laws, subordinate regulations and NOMs by deploying tools such as ex ante and ex post regulatory impact assessment and stakeholder engagement. NOMs are subject to a double quality control as their regulatory impact assessments (RIA) are reviewed by CONAMER and by National Advisory Committees (Comités Consultivos Nacionales or CCNN) established to design and oversee the implementation of specific NOMs.

The National Metrology Centre (Centro Nacional de Metrología, CENAM) is a decentralised body created by the LFMN to act as reference laboratory for national measurement standards. To date, CENAM has developed a number of national measurement standards used as references to ensure uniformity and reliability of national measurements. CENAM is the key actor in the Mexican metrology system. CENAM also occasionally performs conformity assessment services such as calibration, verifications and approval of software and prototypes. For example, CENAM is the competent body for verifying compliance with some of the requirements established under a technical regulation on gas measurement and supply (NOM-005-SCFI-2011). Similarly, CENAM is authorised to issue certificates for companies undergoing environmental audits under the General Law on Ecologic Balance and Environmental Protection (Ley General del Equilibrio Ecológico y la Protección al Ambiente).

Thirteen sectoral regulators are involved in the implementation and enforcement of technical regulations in Mexico. According to the LFMN, sectoral regulators are in charge of developing the conformity assessment procedures for NOMs under their purview and undertake inspections to secure that the products and services comply with technical regulations (LFMN, articles 68 and 91). In addition, sectoral regulators are required by the LFMN to co-ordinate with other agencies to secure compliance with NOMs. Yet, co-ordination for the implementation of technical regulations where two or more regulators have oversight powers is scarce and occurs on an ad-hoc basis.

The Mexican Accreditation Entity (Entidad Mexicana de Acreditación, EMA) is a private non-profit organisation established in 1999 to grant formal recognition to conformity assessment bodies in Mexico through accreditation. The EMA is authorised by the Ministry of Economy and additionally approved by the National Standardisation Commission (Comisión Nacional de Normalización, CNN). To date, the EMA remains the only accreditation body for conformity assessment bodies in Mexico, which comprise testing laboratories, calibration laboratories, medical laboratories, inspection bodies and certification bodies, proficiency testing providers and the greenhouse gas emissions verification/validation bodies. The EMA is recognised by the main international accreditation organisations, including the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) and the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC).

The LFMN allows sectoral regulators to take on conformity assessment procedures directly or to approve and authorise conformity assessment bodies (CABs) accredited by EMA to perform these tasks. CABs in Mexico, include inter alia, testing laboratories, calibration laboratories, verification bodies and certification bodies. According to EMA’s responses to an OECD questionnaire, the landscape of conformity assessment bodies in Mexico has increased both in number (from nearly 989 in 1999 to roughly 6,043 in 2019) and in the range of sectors covered, recently including for instance forensic, clinical laboratories and verifications for greenhouse gas emissions, producers of reference materials and proficiency testing providers.

The Federal Attorney´s Office of Consumer (Procuraduría Federal del Consumidor, PROFECO) is a decentralised public entity that has a broad mandate to perform inspections and surveillance under the Federal Consumer Protection Law. PROFECO oversee the enforcement of consumer-related technical regulations and NOMs issued by the Ministry of Economy when no specific sectoral regulator is tasked with their oversight (LFPC, article 3). In addition, PROFECO is also occasionally engaged in conformity assessment procedures such as the certification of scales and verification of gas stations.

Customs officials at entry points are responsible for checking compliance of imported goods with NOMs (LCE, article 26). In order to demonstrate compliance with the standards set in a NOM, the importer must exhibit a certificate of compliance. Thorough consideration of the system of controls at the border was beyond the scope of this review, but interviews conducted nonetheless allowed to identify a number of critical issues that touch upon the implementation of NOMs. These deserve to be investigated further, because effective border controls and good co-ordination between border and in-country supervision on technical conformity issues are essential to the proper functioning of the technical regulation system. Mexico’s performance in terms of trade facilitation is solid, as evidenced by the OECD Trade Facilitation index (OECD, 2017[4]) – ensuring that the system is also effective in terms of technical safety is an important next step. This involves a reliable certification system; the existence of technical resources at border control points to assess conformity of shipments which present a significant risk; and a system to assess the risk-level of shipments from a technical regulation perspective (distinct from the system that exists for customs valuation).

copy the linklink copied!Recent and ongoing reforms in Mexico affecting technical regulations

In recent years, Mexico’s efforts to strengthen its regulatory policy framework have gone beyond the early stages of the regulatory policy “lifecycle” and extended to the enforcement and ex post review of regulations, including NOMs. This is illustrated by a number of past and ongoing reform initiatives that target or have an impact over the Mexico’s Metrology, Standardisation and Technical Regulation System. This is the case of the 2018 reform to the General Law of Regulatory Improvement that focused on reinforcing good regulatory practices such as RIA, including for NOMs. Also in 2018, the consumer protection watchdog (PROFECO) was granted new powers to impose sanctions and fines for breaches of the Federal Consumer Protection Law. In January 2020, Congress passed a new Law to Promote Citizens’ Trust (Ley de Fomento a la Confianza Ciudadana) that creates a simplified inspection regime for certain individuals and entities.

In addition to these reforms, Congress is currently discussing a reform to the LFMN. Furthermore, the current administration recently announced a project to roll out a new Law on National Quality Infrastructure (Ley de Infraestructura de la Calidad). The following section briefly discusses these past and ongoing reform initiatives.

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Table 1.4. Summary of recent and ongoing reform initiatives impacting technical regulations

Reform

Status

Impact on technical regulations (NOMs)

Reform to the General Law of Regulatory Improvement

Passed in 2018

  • Creation of a National Registry of Inspections

  • Regulatory offsetting rule applicable to NOMs

Reform to the Consumer Protection Law

Passed in 2018

  • Strengthens PROFECO’s powers to impose sanctions including for non-compliance with NOMs

Law to Promote Citizens’ Trust

Passed in 2020

  • Creation of a voluntary simplified regulatory inspection regime for special entities or individuals

  • Consideration of businesses track-record

Law on Quality Infrastructure

Drafting by the Executive and discussion ongoing

  • Complete overhaul of Mexico’s Metrology, Standardisation and Technical Regulation System

Source: Author’s own elaboration.

Roll-out of the General Law of Regulatory Improvement

The General Law of Regulatory Improvement establishes the scope and the basis for the development of regulatory policy in Mexico. The 2018 reform created the National System on Regulatory Improvement, revamped the role of CONAMER and defined new obligations for subnational entities and autonomous institutions. The reform put in place a number of measures that impact a range of instruments including technical regulations, notably regulatory offsetting and the creation of a National Registry for Inspections (Box 1.2). In addition, it banned regulatory proposals not included in the Regulatory Agenda, which is updated every six months, from being published in the Official Gazette.

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Box 1.2. The National Registry of Inspections

The 2018 reform to the General Law of Regulatory Improvement creates a National Registry of Visits (Registro Nacional de Visitas Domiciliarias), a repository aimed to increase publicly available information on the details of inspection processes.

The registry includes a list of inspection activities that can be carried out by public institutions and the civil servants authorised to perform them, as well as other relevant information identified by the National Council of Regulatory Improvement.

CONAMER is responsible for managing the Registry with information provided by the relevant sectoral regulator or agency leading the inspection and verifications activities — including statistics.

While the complete dataset that the Registry will contain is yet to be defined in the National Strategy of Regulatory Improvement, some minimum information requirements set forth in the law include the contact numbers for the internal compliance office in each institution responsible for inspections and civil servants authorising the activity.

The implementation of the Registry is still pending.

Source: Regulatory Improvement Law (Ley de Mejora Regulatoria).

New Law to Promote Citizens’ Trust

In January 2020, the Law to Promote Citizens’ Trust (Ley de Fomento a la Confianza Ciudadana) was approved by Congress with the objective of creating a simplified inspection regime for certain individuals and entities. The rationale behind the law is that those societies with higher levels of trust between the government and the private sector achieve stronger economic growth and are subject to fewer corruption issues.

The initiative creates a special registry (Padrón Único de Confianza) managed by CONAMER where individuals and entities can enrol voluntarily to benefit from a reduced burden of inspections and other administrative simplification advantages. Individuals and entities included in the registry will be subject to special inspection system managed by CONAMER.

The simplified inspection regime will not be applicable to inspections and verifications undertaken in matters related to food safety, human and animal health, tax, customs, labour, social security, foreign trade, financial sector, fire arms and explosives, money laundering regulations, and certain activities related to petroleum products.

CONAMER will determine the target and frequency of inspection visits based on a strategic analysis. The law introduces the foundations for a risk-based system, in particular varying inspections frequency based on risk, and assessing risk by combining intrinsic risk and business’ track record. CONAMER is also working to develop an information system to support such an approach. While these are very positive developments, they will nevertheless require a robust, well-structured and thorough implementation programme – possibly focusing first on specific regulatory functions and pilot implementation in some selected states or cities. Experience suggests that the implementation of such changes requires good planning, resources and time.

Reform to the LFMN

Congress is discussing a proposal to reform the LFMN first presented in 2017 to address weaknesses in Mexico’s LFMN. The main elements of the reform proposal are the following:

  • Simplification of the processes for NOM design and review;

  • Establishment of the process, elaboration, consultation and publication of Mutual Recognition Agreements;

  • Providing guidelines to strengthen oversight and operation of conformity assessment bodies, as well as the sanctions applicable to them; and

  • Strengthening the sanction system by increasing the fines for breaches of the LFMN.

The reform also intends to overhaul the System of Norms and Conformity Assessment (Sistema Integral de Normas y Evaluación de la Conformidad). The system, managed by the Ministry of Economy, would work as a repository that gathers all the information related to standardisation and conformity assessment. It would include the list of products, services and systems that have been evaluated, the accreditation entities in the country, the inventory of NOMs and all relevant documents. At the time of preparation of this report, the reform proposal is still awaiting discussion in Congress.

References

[3] Cámara de Diputados del Congreso General de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos (2017), Iniciativa que Reforma y Adiciona Diversas Disposiciones de las Leyes Federal sobre Metrología y Normalización y se Reforma el Artículo 26 de la Ley de Comercio Exterior, Cámara de Diputados, Ciudad de Mexico, http://sil.gobernacion.gob.mx/Archivos/Documentos/2018/01/asun_3659441_20180124_1516809611.pdf.

[2] Garcia, D. (2017), Mexico oil sector accidents raise doubts about deep water exploration, https://www.offshoreenergytoday.com/mexico-oil-sector-accidents-raise-doubts-about-deep-water-exploration/.

[1] OECD (2018), Standard setting and competition in Mexico 2018, OECD, http://www.oecd.org/daf/competition/WEB-Standard-setting-Mexico-2018.pdf.

[4] OECD (2017), OECD Trade Facilitation Index, http://www.oecd.org/trade/topics/trade-facilitation/.

Notes

← 1. LFTR, articles 7, 15, 289 and 291.

← 2. Public consultation on the “Proposed Draft Technical Provision IFT-011-2017, Part 2. Mobile Terminal Equipment operating in the 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 1900 MHz, 2100 MHz and / or 2500 MHz bands”. http://www.ift.org.mx/industria/consultas-publicas/consulta-publica-sobre-el-anteproyecto-de-disposicion-tecnica-ift-011-2017-parte-2-equipos.

← 3. Article 17.

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