Following repeated calls from the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) asking the Biden administration to respond to plans by Mexico to block imports of biotech corn, United States Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai met virtually on Thursday with Mexico’s Secretary of Economy, Raquel Buenrostro. During the meeting, Tai talked about the importance of avoiding a disruption in U.S. corn exports.
“We applaud Ambassador Tai for listening to corn grower leaders and sharing our concerns with the leadership in Mexico,” said NCGA President Tom Haag. “But, given the magnitude of Mexico’s threats and the fact that the embargo is set to be fully implemented by 2024, we need USTR to resolve the impasse as soon as possible by filing a dispute under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).”
The dispute centers around Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s decree that would end imports of corn grown using biotech and certain herbicides by 2024. Biotech corn makes up over 90% of U.S. corn crops. One recent estimate projected a 30% increase in the price of tortillas in Mexico from the embargo.
NCGA has strongly encouraged USTR to file a dispute under the agriculture chapter of USMCA, which calls for cooperation between members on an individual government’s regulation of imports. An op-ed by Haag was recently published in The Hill, a newspaper widely read by Washington policymakers and decision-makers. Corn grower leaders also continue raising the issue with lawmakers and major media outlets.
A USMCA dispute settlement would allow for extensive debate and mediation that could head off a calamitous outcome.