U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai met with Mexican officials in late July to discuss trade frictions between the two countries, including ag-related challenges. In a readout after the meeting, USTR reported that Ambassador Tai pressed her counterpart for an update on the country’s progress on increasing access for U.S. fresh potatoes.
In response to the meeting, NPC CEO Kam Quarles issued the following statement: “U.S. potato growers appreciate the continued vigilance of Ambassador Tai and Secretary Vilsack to ensure this 20-plus year potato market access dispute finally crosses the finish line. Over the past two decades, we’ve heard Mexico make numerous promises about living up to their end of trade agreements only to backtrack under domestic political pressure and continue to prevent U.S. fresh potatoes from gaining full access to their country. We continue to urge the Ambassador and Secretary to maintain a ‘trust but verify’ stance with Mexico to ensure their market isn’t just temporarily opened, but instead remains open to high quality U.S. fresh potatoes.”
Although the Mexican Supreme Court unanimously ruled in late April that Mexico has the authority to reinstate market access for U.S. fresh potatoes, the government has not moved forward in issuing regulations to reinstate that access. This week’s meeting precedes a meeting expected in August between USDA Secretary Vilsack and Mexican Agriculture Secretary Villalobos, which is also to include discussions around resolving Mexico’s long-standing dispute with the U.S. on fresh potatoes.