Traditionally, the Government of Mexico (GOM) had been the primary actor in determining product standards, labeling and certification policy, with little input from the private sector and less from consumers. As a result, independent standards and certification organizations like those in the United States were virtually non-existent in Mexico. In 1992, the Ministry of Economy (SE-Secretaria de Economía) initiated efforts to reverse this situation, shifting the responsibility for the formulation of voluntary standards to the private sector or to mixed commissions.
In 1992, the Mexican Government undertook an ambitious project to revamp its entire system for formulating product standards, testing, and labeling and certification regulations. The cornerstone of this review is the Federal Law of Standardization and Metrology (Ley Federal de Metrología y Normalización-LFMN) enacted on January 26, 1988 and updated in 1992. It provided for greater transparency and access by the 2/11/2009 public and interested parties to the standards development process, and has resulted in a reduction of obligatory product standards. This process is not without its problems, but the Mexican Government has been receptive to U.S. concerns and willing to resolve these problems.
The SE (Ministry of Economy), through its General Bureau of Standards (DGN – Dirección General de Normas), is the organization with the authority to manage and to coordinate the standardization activities in the country. Its authority derives from the LFMN. The implementing regulations (Reglamento de la Ley Federal sobre Metrología y Normalización) were published in the Official Gazette (Diario Oficial, DOF) on January 14, 1999. In accordance with the Federal Law, the Law of Metrology and Standardization and its Regulation (Reglamento de la Ley Federal sobre Metrología y Normalización), the National Program of Standardization (Programa Nacional de Normalización, PNN) is published annually in the Diario Oficial (DOF), which is the official document used to plan, inform and coordinate the standardization activities, both public and private, carried out by the Mexican Government.
Finally, two definitions are important to keep in mind:
1. NOMs – literally: Mexican Official Standards – these are Technical Regulations, including labeling requirements, issued by government agencies and ministries. Compliance is mandatory.
2. NMX – Mexican “Voluntary” Standards – these are voluntary standards issued by recognized national standards-making bodies. Compliance is mandatory only when a claim is made that a product meets the NMX, when a NOM specifies compliance, and whenever applicable in government procurement.
Under the NAFTA, Mexico was required, starting January 1, 1998, to recognize conformity assessment bodies in the United States and Canada on terms no less favorable than those applied in Mexico. Recently, after years of negotiation, two U.S. certification bodies have finally been accredited, with others expected to follow suit. Based on agreements with other agencies, as well as with other certification organizations, the General Bureau of Standards (DGN) of the Ministry of Economy has established procedures for the certification of products to both Technical Regulations (NOMs) and Voluntary Standards (NMXs). Conformity Assessment procedures issued by the SE/DGN tend to be more fully developed and cover a significantly greater range of NOMs than those of other ministries who develop NOMs.