U.S. POTATO FARMERS SOON TO EXPORT TO MEXICO
U.S. and Mexican agriculture officials have negotiated a protocol agreement that will soon allow U.S. table stock potato farmers to export to Mexico.
Under the agreement, the U.S. Department of Agriculture must also complete a risk analysis for a proposed rule to allow Mexico mini tuber potatoes into the United States by June.
The negotiated protocol addresses several measures, including the application of sprout inhibitor, sealing trucks at origin, and traceability of potato shipments, to address Mexico’s phytosanitary concerns about nematodes and viruses. The Mexican market is valued at $30 million a year to U.S. potato farmers.
“We continue to have very positive discussions on a wide range of issues,” said Javier Usabiaga, Mexico’s secretary of agriculture, livestock, rural development, fisheries and food. “Our two teams (of Mexican and U.S. agricultural officials) are working well together and this agreement demonstrates that we are making progress on a number of important issues that will further expand trade between our two countries.”
The potato agreement comes one month after the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding creating a Consultative Committee on Agriculture to improve trade and resolve disputes. The committee’s main purpose is to work together on the North American Free Trade Agreement implementation, sanitary and phytosanitary issues, cross-border partnerships on animal health and food safety, and biotechnology and research cooperation.
In April, as a result of the initial committee meetings, an agreement was reached between the countries to allow California stone fruit exports to Mexico during the 2002 shipping season.
Two-way agricultural trade between Mexico and the United States has doubled since NAFTA’s implementation in 1993, accounting for about $13 billion in 2001.
Investments between the countries have also increased. Mexican investment in the U.S. food industry increased from $300 million in 1997 to more than $1 billion in 2002. Likewise, U.S. investment in Mexico was $5.7 billion in 2000, up from $2.3 billion in 1993.
“The working relationship between our two countries continues to produce results,” said U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman. “Both President Bush and President Fox understand the importance of our trading partnership and want to see exports grow.”