USTR Katherine Tai recently met with Mexican officials
By Diego Flammini
The United States is asking Mexico to reconsider decisions that will affect American farmers.
United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai traveled to Mexico last week with her Canadian and Mexican counterparts to commemorate the first anniversary of the entry-into-force of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
The trilateral trade agreement came into force on July 1, 2020.
While in Mexico last week, Ambassador Tai urged Mexico to reverse course on GMO corn and allow more U.S. potatoes into the country.
“Ambassador Tai emphasized the importance of Mexico immediately resuming the authorization of biotechnology products and inquired about the status of expanding access for U.S. fresh potatoes throughout Mexico,” a July 7 press release from Tai’s office says.
In 2019, The U.S. exported about $2.7 billion worth of corn to Mexico.
On Dec. 31, 2020, the Mexican government published a decree stating it would ban imports of GMO corn for human consumption by January 2024.
In March 2021, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack indicated the ban would not apply to animal feed.
The USMCA includes a biotechnology chapter aimed at spurring collaboration between Canada, Mexico and the United States to benefit corn, cotton and soybean producers.
But Mexico hasn’t approved any new biotech traits since 2018.
On the potato front, a Mexican Supreme Court decision in April of this year overturned a lower court decision from 2017 which prevented the government from allowing fresh U.S. potatoes into Mexico.
Ahead of the meeting with Mexican officials, the National Potato Council urged Ambassador Tai to take a “trust but verify” stance with Mexico.
And if Mexico refuses to open its borders to U.S. potatoes, action may be necessary, the group said.
“Should Mexico continue its historical pattern by delaying reinstating market access for U.S. potatoes or illegitimately restricting the market, we strongly urge USDA and USTR to move forward with the dispute resolution process under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement and thereby seek to apply tariffs against Mexican exports to the U.S such as avocados,” the group wrote in a June 28 letter.