USTR Announces USMCA Technical Consultations with Mexico on Agricultural Biotechnology

March 06, 2023

Request is the First Under the Agreement’s Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures Chapter

WASHINGTON – The Office of the United States Trade Representative today announced that it is requesting technical consultations with the Government of Mexico under the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) Chapter of the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA).  These consultations regard certain Mexican measures concerning products of agricultural biotechnology. 
Mexico is one of our oldest and strongest trading partners.  Our trade relationship is rooted in trust and honesty and there are many areas where we cooperate and work together.  The U.S. government’s intention is that through this process, we can reach an outcome that respects each country’s sovereignty and benefits the United States, Mexico, and our agricultural producers and stakeholders.
“The United States has repeatedly conveyed our serious concerns with Mexico’s biotechnology policies and the importance of adopting a science-based approach that complies with its USMCA commitments,” said Ambassador Katherine Tai.  "Mexico’s policies threaten to disrupt billions of dollars in agricultural trade and they will stifle the innovation that is necessary to tackle the climate crisis and food security challenges if left unaddressed.  We hope these consultations will be productive as we continue to work with Mexico to address these issues.”
“Mexico is an important partner, and we remain committed to maintaining and strengthening our economic and trade ties.  A robust, transparent agricultural trading relationship, founded on rules and science, is vital to ensuring food security, mitigating the lingering effects of food price inflation, and helping to address the climate crisis.  Innovations in agricultural biotechnology play a key role in advancing these critical, global objectives,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “While we appreciate the sustained, active engagement with our Mexican counterparts at all levels of government, we remain firm in our view that Mexico’s current biotechnology trajectory is not grounded in science, which is the foundation of USMCA.”
Today’s announcement follows extensive engagement by USTR and USDA with the Government of Mexico on its biotech policies, including Ambassador Tai’s discussions with Mexico’s Secretary of Economy Raquel Buenrostro and Chief Agricultural Negotiator Doug McKalip’s and Ambassador Jayme White’s meetings with Mexico’s Under Secretary of Foreign Trade Alejandro Encinas in January 2023, as well as meetings of the USMCA Free Trade Commission, Deputies, SPS Committee, and Biotech Working Group. 
Article 9.19 of the USMCA (Technical Consultations) provides that a Party may initiate technical consultations with another Party to discuss any matter arising under the SPS Chapter that may adversely affect its trade by delivering a written request.     
On January 30, 2023, the United States sent a formal, written request to Mexico under the USMCA SPS Chapter (Article 9.6.14) for “an explanation of the reasons for” and “pertinent relevant information regarding” certain Mexican measures concerning biotech products.  Mexico provided a written response on February 14, which will help inform technical consultations.
USTR and USDA urge all of the United States’ trading partners to follow a science-based approach to biotech products, which help American farmers respond to pressing climate and food security challenges.  Mexico is a valued trading partner and the United States is committed to working with it to resolve these biotech issues and avoid any disruption in trade in corn or other agricultural products.  If these issues are not resolved, we will consider all options, including taking formal steps to enforce U.S. rights under the USMCA. 

Request for consultations letter