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U.S. and Mexico: U.S. Potato Trade Ruling

Background:

Twenty years ago, the U.S. agreed to open trade to Mexican avocados in exchange for U.S. potatoes. While Mexican avocado imports increased, U.S. potatoes were still unable to make their way across the border. The Mexican government finally opened their country to U.S. potato exports in 2011, but with limited access of up to 26 kilometers past the border. Since this decision, numerous legal cases have been filed by the Mexican potato industry to protect their domestic monopoly and prevent import competition. The Mexican potato cartel ‘CONPAPA’ stated that the government does not have the authority to determine whether or not agricultural imports can cross into their borders. These cases made their way to the Mexico Supreme Court in 2018. 

Update:

The Mexican Supreme Court issued a draft ruling prior to the actual vote. The draft ruling was released on February 17th and rejected the cases filed by Mexican potato farmers and supported full access to export trade for U.S. potato farmers. The Mexican Supreme Court was expected to rule on the issue on February 24th, 2021, however, has indefinitely postponed this ruling. No new date has been set at this time. 

Impact:

As the third-largest export market for U.S. potatoes, Mexico is a major part of U.S. potato export trade. The U.S. currently exports an estimated $60 million worth of fresh spuds each year to Mexico despite existing trade barriers. According to the National Potato Council, market potential for full U.S. fresh potato access for Mexico is estimated at $200 million per year in five years. If the court does not affirm its draft ruling that supports the Mexican government’s authority to make import decisions, this could impact more than U.S. potato trade but all U.S. export trade to Mexico moving forward.  

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