Mexican Supreme Court allows US potatoes to wider market |

Mexican Supreme Court allows US potatoes to wider market

Jared Balcom

Mexico’s Supreme Court released a final, unanimous ruling Wednesday that will allow the importation of U.S. fresh potatoes throughout the country.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said, “This decision is important for American agriculture and for positive bilateral relations between the United States and Mexico.”

“USDA has worked for years on a resolution to this ongoing issue. It was something I prioritized as secretary between 2009-2016 and one of the first issues I discussed with Mexico’s secretary of Agriculture when I returned this year.

“U.S. industry representatives estimate that implementation of full market access for U.S. potatoes could increase U.S. exports from approximately $50 million in 2020 to $150 million or more. We look forward to resuming bilateral technical engagements to finalize import requirements as soon as possible.”

National Potato Council Vice President of Trade Affairs Jared Balcom said, “This ruling is consistent with Mexico’s obligations under the USMCA and the WTO.”

“It represents a major step forward in the U.S. potato industry’s efforts to provide consumers throughout Mexico access to fresh, healthy U.S.-grown potatoes. After decades of delay, we hope this ruling represents a light at the end of the tunnel and that Mexican regulators will immediately begin working on regulations to allow for the importation of fresh U.S. potatoes throughout their country.”

Since it first allowed for the importation of fresh U.S. potatoes in 2003, Mexico has restricted those potatoes to a 26 kilometer-area along the U.S.-Mexico border, NPC explained.

NPC added, “That restriction has violated Mexico’s obligations under numerous trade agreements, including NAFTA, WTO, and now the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. The Mexican government finally agreed to allow U.S. potatoes full access to their market beginning in May 2014; however, immediately after that was implemented, the National Confederation of Potato Growers of Mexico (CONPAPA) sued its government, claiming Mexican regulators have no authority to determine if agricultural imports can enter the country.”

“Today’s Supreme Court decision rejected CONPAPA’s arguments and affirms that the Mexican government does indeed have the authority to issue regulations about the importation of agricultural and food products, including fresh U.S. potatoes,” NPC said.

NPC said Mexico is the third largest export market for U.S. potatoes and products valued at over $270 million in 2020. Despite the restriction to the 26-kilometer border region Mexico is the second largest market for fresh potato exports accounting for 106,000 metric tons valued at $60 million in 2020. The U.S. potato industry estimates that access to the entire country for fresh U.S. potatoes will provide a market potential of $200 million per year, in five years.


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