Ag Policy Blog

Farm, Ag Groups Tell Tai, Vilsack of Mexico Concerns

Jerry Hagstrom
By  Jerry Hagstrom , DTN Political Correspondent
Thousands of tons of U.S. corn and other commodities every week cross the Mexican border at the Progreso, Texas, International Bridge. Corn is headed to feed mills, feedlots and other end users. Agricultural groups are now concerned about moves in the Mexican government to restrict biotech corn products. (DTN file photo)

A coalition of 27 farm and agriculture groups on Monday wrote U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack that they have growing concerns about the U.S.-Mexico agricultural trade relationship.

“Mexico is one of America's most important food and agriculture trade partners. NAFTA has yielded strong benefits to both countries and the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) promises to build upon those gains,” the letter states.

“Yet, the food and agriculture trade relationship with Mexico has declined markedly, a trend USMCA's implementation has not reversed. We respectfully urge your attention to this important but quickly deteriorating trade relationship.”

They cited a ban on glyphosate and genetically modified corn, increased obstacles to dairy trade, an organic export certification requirement, a state-sponsored campaign disparaging corn sweeteners from the U.S., a cessation of review and approval of biotechnology applications, implications from meat industry market access and geographical indications, a potato export ban, and a new front-of-pack labeling regulation.

On the glyphosate/GM corn ban, the letter states the Mexican government issued a decree at the end of 2020 to phase out the use of glyphosate and genetically-modified corn for human consumption. The letter states that the decree is unclear in its scope, but it poses a significant risk and creates uncertainty in cross-border trade. As the largest importer of corn and corn products from the U.S., the decree represents a dramatic shift in U.S.-Mexico trade relations and has the potential to negatively impact a significant portion of U.S. agricultural products.”

The letter was released by the Corn Refiners Association.

Letter to USDA and USTR https://corn.org/…

Tai, in her first day on the job Monday, spoke to counterparts in Canada, the United Kingdom and the European Commission, as well as with World Trade Organization Director General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

Tai met with Canadian Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade Mary Ng, U.K. Secretary of State for International Trade Liz Truss, and European Commission Executive Vice President and Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis.

The official readout of the meeting with Canada's Ng said, “Ambassador Tai and Minister Ng began by emphasizing the close relationship between the two countries and expressed their commitment to strengthening the global economy.”

“They discussed the importance of fully implementing the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and building a trade partnership that advances racial equity and supports underserved communities. Ambassador Tai and Minister Ng both committed to future engagement on shared priorities, including recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, climate and environmental issues, forced labor, and reform at the World Trade Organization.

“Lastly, they both agreed to pursue a USMCA Free Trade Commission meeting with their Mexican counterpart in the near future.”

Jerry Hagstrom can be reached at jhagstrom@nationaljournal.com

Follow him on Twitter @hagstromreport

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