Background

The U.S. has again advanced a dispute over Mexico’s policies on agricultural biotechnology products that could lead to trade retaliation measures.

Earlier this month the U.S. requested formal dispute settlement consultations under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement regarding measures set out in a February 2023 Mexican decree, specifically a ban on the use of genetically-engineered corn in tortillas or dough and instructions to Mexican government agencies to gradually substitute (i.e., ban) the use of such corn in all products for human consumption and animal feed. The consultations also concern Mexico’s rejections of applications for authorization covering the importation and sale of certain biotechnology products.

“The United States has repeatedly conveyed its concerns that Mexico’s biotechnology policies are not based on science and threaten to disrupt U.S. exports to Mexico to the detriment of agricultural producers, which in turn can exacerbate food security challenges,” said U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, referencing numerous discussions held over the past few years. “Mexico’s biotechnology policies also stifle agricultural innovation that helps American farmers respond to pressing climate challenges, increase farm productivity, and improve farmers’ livelihoods.”

If the two sides fail to reach an agreement during consultations, the U.S. could request the establishment of a USMCA dispute settlement panel to hear its arguments. That process, if it resulted in a ruling in favor of the U.S., could eventually result in retaliatory measures such as increased tariffs on imports from Mexico.

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