Last week, Mexico’s Supreme Court was scheduled to finally rule on a set of cases that could allow for the full importation of fresh U.S. potatoes; however, the court once again postponed deliberations on the appeals. While the delay itself is nothing new, the inaction came on the heels of a request issued by the Mexican potato cartel CONPAPA to Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador asking him to deliberately obstruct the legal process at the expense of Mexico’s trade obligations.
As reported by the Mexican news outlet Reforma, CONPAPA asked the president to instruct the head of the Ministry of Agriculture (SADER) to withdraw its appeal in the lawsuits, which would leave nothing for the court to consider, effectively ending the legal process.
“Given that the cartel Wednesday morning requested that the government drop these cases, and immediately after the court again delayed their decision, it is reasonable to assume that the legal process in Mexico is impaired by politics,” said NPC CEO Kam Quarles. “Therefore, in order to enforce our rights, it appears the USMCA is the best option. Once we successfully prove our case there, it will allow the U.S. to attach retaliatory tariffs to Mexican agricultural products such as avocados until they provide the access we are due.”
At issue is SADER’s appeal of a 2017 lower court decision that prevents the Mexican federal government from implementing regulations to allow for the full importation of fresh U.S. potatoes throughout the country. For more than 20 years, Mexico has violated numerous trade pacts by preventing fresh U.S. potatoes from being shipped beyond a 26 kilometer-area along the U.S.-Mexico border. The trade dispute costs the U.S. potato industry upwards of $200 million per year in unrealized revenue.