On Wednesday, a monumental Mexican Supreme Court ruling is now allowing for the importation of fresh U.S. potatoes in Mexico. The high court ruled to overturn a lower court decision that that prevented the Mexican federal government from implementing regulations to allow for the importation of American spuds. The ruling is applauded by the Washington State Potato Council, the National Potato Council, and Potatoes USA; legislators at the state and federal level are also thrilled with the decision.
“This is wonderful news for potato growers in Washington state, where the vast majority of potato farms are family-owned. After far too many years – and thanks to the diligent advocacy of the U.S. potato industry – I am glad that Mexico will now honor its obligations under our nations’ trade agreements,” Chelan County Congressional Representative Kim Schrier stated.
“Today’s ruling by the Mexican Supreme Court is a big win for Central Washington potato growers and our nation’s economy. Access to the Mexican market is long overdue and allowing for the importation of fresh U.S. potatoes is a critical component of enforcing President Trump’s U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Our farmers are eager to build an even stronger trade relationship with our neighbor to the south, and this is a step in that direction,” Congressman Dan Newhouse said.
Since it first allowed for the importation of fresh U.S. potatoes in 2003, Mexico has restricted those potatoes to a 26 kilometer-area along the U.S.-Mexico border. That restriction has violated Mexico’s obligations under numerous trade agreements, including NAFTA, WTO, and now the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The Mexican government finally agreed to allow U.S. potatoes full access to their market beginning in May 2014; however, immediately after that was implemented, the National Confederation of Potato Growers of Mexico (CONPAPA) sued its government, claiming Mexican regulators have no authority to determine if agricultural imports can enter the country.
Today’s Supreme Court decision rejected CONPAPA’s arguments and affirms that the Mexican government does indeed have the authority to issue regulations about the importation of agricultural and food products, including fresh U.S. potatoes.
“Mexico offers a significant opportunity for U.S. potato growers,” stated John Toaspern, Chief Marketing Officer at Potatoes USA. “The trade in fruits and vegetables between the U.S. and Mexico is hugely beneficial to growers and consumers in both countries. In fact, Mexican avocados were granted access to the U.S. at the same time as U.S. potatoes to Mexico in 2003. Since that time, the U.S. government has honored the agreement and imports of Mexican avocados are now over $2 billion. The U.S. can supply a wide variety of fresh high-quality potatoes to Mexico, russets, reds, yellows, whites, fingerlings and chipping potatoes year-round that are not currently produced there. Mexican retailers, foodservice operators, food manufactures and ultimately Mexican consumers will benefit from this wide array of high-quality potatoes available year-round.”
“This is a significant step that effectively ends the legal process that has blocked our access to the Mexican market,” said NPC CEO Kam Quarles. “This effort has spanned numerous administrations and sessions of Congress, but the U.S. position never wavered. We are thankful for everyone at USDA, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and Members of Congress who have worked for years to encourage Mexico to lift these protectionist restrictions. We now look forward to working with the Mexican government and its regulatory agencies in immediately reinstating the rules to allow for fresh U.S. potatoes to be shipped and the normalization of trade between our countries.”