WASHINGTON – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack released the following statement on Monday after his meeting with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on the U.S.- Mexico bilateral trade relationship and its importance for U.S. farmers, ranchers and producers:
“We appreciate the president welcoming us to Mexico and engaging in a productive dialogue. The meetings provided a venue to raise the United States Government’s and our producers’ deep concerns around President López Obrador’s 2020 decree to phase out the use and importation of biotech corn and other biotechnology products by January 2024. The president’s phase-out decree has the potential to substantially disrupt trade, harm farmers on both sides of the border and significantly increase costs for Mexican consumers.
“We must find a way forward soon and I emphasized in no uncertain terms that – absent acceptable resolution of the issue – the U.S. Government would be forced to consider all options, including taking formal steps to enforce our legal rights under the USMCA.
“We made it abundantly clear that Mexico’s import ban would cause both massive economic losses for Mexico’s agricultural industries and citizens, as well as place an unjustified burden on U.S. farmers. This is a critically important issue for U.S. farmers, who are rightfully and deeply concerned about the decree. The decree would also have significant impact on the U.S.-Mexico trade relationship, which hit a record value of more than $63 billion in two-way trade in 2021 and is expected to be even higher in 2022. The phase-out of biotechnology products, as outlined in the decree, could also stifle the important innovations we need to help our farmers adapt to a changing climate.
“The United States Department of Agriculture and the wider U.S. Government have consistently and proactively pursued cooperation and consultation with Mexico to resolve this issue and time is now running short. Some progress was made today. For example, President López Obrador reaffirmed the importance of yellow corn imports for Mexico’s food security. He also discussed a potential process in which we can exchange information and engage in dialogue assuring the safety of biotechnology products. We expect to have a proposal from the President’s team soon and we will evaluate closely. While we do not have a solution in hand, we will continue to engage with Mexico on this important issue.”