WHAT THEY ARE SAYING: USTR Announces USMCA Technical Consultations with Mexico on Agricultural Biotechnology

March 06, 2023

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.
Elected officials and industry leaders applauded Ambassador Tai’s leadership and emphasized the importance of upholding equitable biotechnology standards under the USMCA.
Read more about what they are saying:
House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (R-MO): “Today’s announcement is a critical step in the right direction towards protecting American farmers and rural communities.”

House of Representatives Subcommittee on Trade Chairman Adrian Smith (R-NE): “[T]his is an important step toward formal dispute consultations, and I appreciate Ambassador Tai’s attention to this matter. We must hold our trading partners to their commitments and lead from a position of strength.”
House Committee on Agriculture Republicans: “Pleased to see @USTradeRep @AmbassadorTai take necessary action to hold Mexico accountable for their attempt to ban U.S. biotech corn. The science (not political science) is on the side of America's producers who deserve free and fair market access as outlined in the #USMCA.”
Congressman Dan Kildee (D-MI): “I applaud the U.S. Trade Representative for taking new actions today to ensure that we support Michigan farmers and follow the science on agricultural goods. Michigan farmers need certainty that they will be able to sell their products abroad, and today’s action will help do just that.”
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR): “Today's announcement is good news for U.S. farmers, who need the United States to show it's serious about enforcing our trade deals…Today, USTR has finally taken a major step towards enforcing those commitments and ensuring that Mexico will employ science-based ag regulations that open markets for American corn and other products.”

Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL): "We appreciate USTR for being responsive to our letter highlighting the importance of science-based rules for agricultural trade with Mexico, and we hope to see a resolution that ensures Illinois farmers can continue to help supply Mexico with the corn they need to feed families and keep the country going."
Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA): “I appreciate Amb Tai giving me news that 2day USTR announced consultations w Mexico under USMCA on ag biotechnology Since Amb Tai was going thru confirmation I warned about Mexico’s decree on banning U.S. corn imports & glad 2 see USTR finally taking action to enforce USMCA.”
Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry Committee Ranking Member John Boozman (R-AR): “Trade agreements are meaningless if our partners refuse to abide by them. Mexico’s attempts to ban U.S. biotech corn is a clear-cut example of a partner going back on its word. We have an obligation to ensure American producers are given the fair access to markets they were promised. Ambassador Katherine Tai and her team ought to be commended for standing up for American farmers and taking the necessary actions to hold Mexico to the agreement they signed. The science and safety of these technologies are beyond dispute, and I am pleased this process is getting underway. I will continue to actively promote and defend science-based technologies to help America’s farmers and ranchers continue to feed, fuel and clothe the world.”

Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE): “I appreciate the Biden Administration demonstrating it is taking this issue seriously by moving forward with technical consultations today. I’ve been clear from the start – the United States cannot accept Mexico’s unscientific ban against genetically modified corn. It’s a flagrant violation of USMCA, and if allowed would set a dangerous precedent for enforcement of U.S. international trade agreements.”

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall: “Mexico’s ban on biotech corn isn’t based on science & is a clear violation of the USMCA. It not only hurts our farmers, it denies families in Mexico access to safe & affordable food. We’re grateful Ambassador Tai and Secretary Vilsack are pressing for fair access to this market.”

National Corn Growers Association President Tom Haag: “We are pleased USTR is taking the next step to hold Mexican officials accountable for the commitments they made under USMCA, which include accepting both biotech and non-biotech commodities. Mexico’s position on biotech corn is already creating uncertainty, so we need U.S officials to move swiftly and do everything it takes to eliminate this trade barrier in the very near future.”

Corn Refiners Association President and CEO John Bode: "Thanks to Ambassador Katherine Tai and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack for their leadership and continued insistence upon full compliance with USMCA. While we are disappointed that it was necessary for the U.S. to take this first formal step under USMCA, we are pleased that the scope of this controversy has been dramatically narrowed and both parties are working within the framework of USMCA to resolve differences. Keeping the commitment to USMCA is the key to advancing science and risk-based policies that are essential to North America’s standing as the world’s leader in food security and sustainability. I hope for a swift resolution to the dispute.”

U.S. Grains Council President and CEO Ryan LeGrand: “The U.S. Grains Council thanks the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative for initiating the consultation with Mexico under USMCA because it undermines U.S. corn’s access to the Mexican market. We have had a long and productive relationship with Mexico. It is our number one market for U.S. corn, and we support this action because it will likely be the most expedient way to ensure that positive relationship continues.”
Biotechnology Innovation Organization Vice President for International Affairs Nancy Travis: “BIO applauds the efforts of USTR and USDA to resolve this issue through negotiations. However, it’s time to send a strong message to the government of Mexico and return to the science-based trading system and obligations to which both our countries committed when we signed the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement…Today’s announcement of a technical consultation with Mexico is a vital first step to restoring policies that enable farmers to use agricultural biotechnology products and improve food security and sustainability.”