Federal Communications Law Journal

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Citation

57 Federal Communications Law Journal 1 (2004)


In April 2004, a World Trade Organization ("WTO") arbitration panel found that Mexico had violated its commitments under the Annex on Telecommunications to the General Agreement on Trade in Services ("GATS") by failing to ensure that Telmex, Mexico's largest supplier of basic telecommunications services, provide interconnection to U.S. telecommunications carriers at international settlement rates that were costoriented. The WTO panel deemed long run average incremental cost ("LRAIC") to be the appropriate cost standard for setting settlement rates. Mexico thus became obliged to change its domestic telecommunications regulations or face trade sanctions. The decision is the first WTO arbitration to deal solely with trade in services under GATS. This Article shows that both the U.S. complaint against Mexico and the WTO decision misunderstood or ignored critical economic facts and principles. Both conflated international settlement rates and domestic interconnection pricing, and failed to recognize the factors that would justify Mexico's permitting Telmex to charge a settlement rate exceeding LRAIC. Moreover, the U.S. government failed to understand that U.S. long-distance carriers were not passing reductions in Mexico's international settlement rate on to their U.S. customers. Finally, both the U.S. government and the WTO incorrectly defined the relevant market and incorrectly evaluated market power.