U.S. potato producers began lobbying for Mexico to effectively open its doors to U.S. exports in the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
“United States potato farmers are supporting the renegotiation of NAFTA to address this matter and related sanitary and phytosanitary issues,” according to a report by the U.S. Congress.
The United States is the world’s seventh largest exporter of potatoes in the world, with sales of $ 204 million dollars in 2016, 37 million of which corresponded to the Mexican market.
Mexico continues prohibiting imports of U.S. fresh potatoes beyond a 26-kilometre area along its border with the United States, despite a number of attempts to address this issue.
In 2003, the United States and Mexico signed an agreement for access for the table potato, which provided a process to allow access for this product throughout Mexico for three years. However, Mexico didn’t implement the agreement, saying they had detected pests in U.S. potato shipments, citing related sanitary and commercial measures in this case as well.
In 2011, the North American plant protection agency published a report identifying six plagues that Mexico should consider. Both the United States and Mexico accepted the report and its recommendations. In may 2014, Mexico published new import standards for potatoes. These new regulations would allow the importation of U.S. potatoes into any part of Mexico.
The Mexican Potato Industry Association (Conpapa) challenged the new import regulations in the Mexican courts. In July 2016, Mexican authorities issued decrees to restore access to fresh potatoes from the United States to areas beyond the border area of 26 km, replacing regulations issued by Sagarpa in 2014 that the Conpapa had blocked with a series of court orders.
Finally, Conpapa obtained three new protections against these decrees from Mexican courts. The department of agriculture and the commercial representation of the U.S. as well as Sagarpa, with their respective industries, continue to work to find ways to resolve this issue.