North American leaders are selling USMCA’s entry into force on July 1 as a big win that will remove uncertainty in the region, but some agricultural issues between the U.S. and Mexico remain unresolved.
Southern growers keep pushing: Kenneth Smith Ramos, Mexico’s former chief USMCA negotiator, said on Thursday that Southern growers and USTR are still discussing seasonal produce concerns.
Seasonal produce growers mainly in Florida and Georgia wanted special provisions in USMCA that would allow them to more easily petition for anti-dumping or countervailing duties on Mexico, but those were left out of the final deal. Still, they’re pushing for an arrangement that will allow them to fight Mexican growers.
U.S. border inspections: Mexican officials have also expressed concern over talk of the U.S. doing more border inspections. Mexico agreed to more frequent inspections as part of a tomato suspension agreement, but Smith Ramos noted there’s a push to extend that to other agricultural goods. Trump also recently suggested the U.S. should terminate any trade deal that allows live cattle to be imported, a move that would effectively invalidate USMCA.
Mexican regulatory rollback: “On the Mexican side, we’ve seen lately quite a bit of regulatory backtracking primarily by the Environment Ministry that could be problematic because they are suspending import permits for agricultural biotech products even though they are in compliance with Mexican law,” Smith Ramos said at an event hosted by the Washington International Trade Association.
Mexico’s environment minister has also pushed to prohibit glyphosate imports, the controversial herbicide that’s used to kill weeds. Ag groups in the U.S., however, want to keep up production of the herbicide, despite environmental and health concerns.
“Hopefully, those will be able to be cleared off the table and we won’t have a dispute on ag because agriculture is by far one of the biggest success stories of our trade relationship,” Smith Ramos said.
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