In the midst of Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations in the U.S. Senate, a bipartisan group of 16 senators, led by Senators Tom Carper (D-DE) and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), on Monday sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk urging the termination of Mexico’s anti-dumping duties case against U.S. chicken leg quarters.

The letter requested that Kirk notify his appropriate counterparts in the Mexican government that the United States has strong concerns about the unfounded and illegal charges that U.S. chicken leg quarters are exported to Mexico at price levels in violation of World Trade Organization (WTO) trade rules.

Early in 2011, three Mexican poultry companies petitioned the Mexican government to begin an anti-dumping investigation of imports of chicken leg quarters from the United States, claiming that U.S. companies were exporting leg quarters to Mexico at below-market prices.

The Mexican ministry recently announced its preliminary results with proposed duties on U.S. poultry ranging from 66-to-129 percent. Although these duties have not yet been applied, under Mexican law, a final decision will have to be reached by August.

This action is based on the “average cost of production” and assumes that every part of the chicken should be priced the same, for example, that the chicken feet have the same value as the chicken breast.

“This assumption is flawed and concerns us as members from poultry producing states,” wrote the senators in their letter to Kirk.  “The Mexican anti-dumping action will deprive our poultry industry of the market access provided under the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).  This case sets an ominous example that must not be repeated throughout the protein sector.  The same approach could encourage others in Mexico to institute frivolous anti-dumping actions against our beef, pork or dairy sectors.”

With U.S. poultry exports to China significantly decreased because of anti-dumping duties, Mexico is the United States’ most important market, importing nearly 250,000 metric tons in the most recent year valued at nearly $270 million.

“As we continue the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, we urge you to resolve this situation and ensure that Mexico honors its commitment under NAFTA,” the letter concluded.  “We hope the anti-dumping case by Mexico is terminated and look forward to working with you to resolve this matter.”

The National Chicken Council supports reaffirming fair trade by having member countries adhere to WTO rules and hailed the latest move in relation to Mexico’s anti-dumping charges.

“We thank this bipartisan group of senators for supporting U.S. chicken and competing meats’ interests in this unjustified case,” said NCC President Mike Brown.  “Mexico is an important trading partner for the U.S. chicken industry, and we hope that this case will be dropped as soon as possible.  U.S.-Mexican trade relations should be strengthened by encouraging trade to expand, not diminish.”

A copy of the letter is available here.  Other signers include Sens. Mark Pryor (D-AR), Chris Coons (D-DE), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Kay Hagan (D-NC), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Richard Lugar (R-IN), John Boozman (R-AR), Robert Casey (D-PA), Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Daniel Coats (R-IN).