BILATERAL trade between Hong Kong and Mexico soared to more than HK$5.27 billion last year. This was 49 per cent more than 1991, and it followed a 34 per cent jump in the preceding set of year-on-year figures. But the relationship is strained because of the alleged dumping of cheap Chinese goods. Mexican Consul General Agustin Gutierrez Canet said that his government had reluctantly been forced to impose tough anti-dumping duties on 10 specific classes of Chinese goods, re-exported through Hong Kong. Trade in these goods amounted to nearly HK$3.92 billion last year, representing 74 per cent of the total Mexico-Hong Kong trade. Mr Gutierrez Canet predicted this particular trade sector would shrink to a quarter of its present scale as a result of the duties. The duty levels range from 16 per cent for the mineral fluorite, to 1,105 per cent for footwear. Toys have been taxed at 351 per cent, five types of textiles and garments at up to 533 per cent, organic chemicals at 673 per cent, and bicycle tyres at 594 per cent. ''We know very well that this has caused an uproar in the business community both here and in China itself,'' Mr Gutierrez Canet said. ''But the government has had to do this because it was uncovering ridiculous situations, such as hawkers in Mexico selling Chinese shoes at lower prices than those charged here in Hong Kong. That could not possibly be allowed to continue.'' Proof that Mexico's economy was open and accessible was its US$20 billion trade deficit last year, he said. ''But while Mexico is thoroughly committed to free trade, it is vigorously against unfair trade,'' he said. Mexican traders had been failing to declare the full values of the imported goods, to avoid paying full duties on them, Mr Gutierrez Canet. However, the Mexican trade department was now trying to learn the true costs of the goods. It had asked Chinese and Hong Kong exporters to Mexico to complete detailed questionnaires before November 10. ''The Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce has well understood the importance of encouraging local companies to help in this regard, and it has even hired a Mexican consultant to help and advise,'' Mr Gutierrez Canet said. The more information Mexico had about true production, transportation and distribution costs, the quicker it would be able to ease or abolish the high duties, he said.