USTR Requests Consultations With Mexico, Vilsack Responds

The U.S. Trade Representative’s Office Monday requested technical consultations with the Government of Mexico under the U.S.–Mexico–Canada Agreement. The consultations, as part of the USMCA Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures Chapter, are aimed at Mexico’s ban on genetically modified corn.

Trade Representative Katherine Tai says, “Mexico’s policies threaten to disrupt billions of dollars in agricultural trade and they will stifle the innovation that is necessary to tackle the climate crisis and food security challenges if left unaddressed.”

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack responded, “These consultations represent the next step in addressing the United States’ concerns with Mexico’s biotechnology policies,” while adding, “We remain firm in our view that Mexico’s current biotechnology trajectory is not grounded in science, which is the foundation of USMCA.”

The U.S. government’s intention is that through the consultation process, USTR can reach an outcome that respects each country’s sovereignty and benefits the United States, Mexico, and U.S. agricultural producers and stakeholders.

The request for technical consultation with Mexico by the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office puts the U.S. one step away from a full dispute settlement under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

The National Corn Growers Association and affiliated state associations, who have been leading calls for the Biden administration to act, applauded the development and urged USTR to expedite the process.

NCGA President Tom Haag says, “Mexico’s position on biotech corn is already creating uncertainty, so we need U.S. officials to move swiftly and do everything it takes to eliminate this trade barrier.”

A technical consultation will bring leaders from both countries into formal discussions. If this step does not resolve the stalemate, the U.S. can then initiate a dispute settlement under USMCA. Once a dispute settlement is filed, a group of experts are empaneled to hear the case and make final determinations based on the commitments both parties signed as part of the free trade agreement.

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