The United States has unjustifiably stopped imports of avocados from Mexico, except Michoacan, which could affect negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), warn US agricultural groups.
In May 2016, the Department of Agriculture issued a final rule that expanded Mexican avocado imports. But the "operational work plan," which details how Mexican producers will meet US standards, has yet to be signed by the US government.
"Negotiations to improve and update the Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures by addressing certain requirements, including risk assessment and transparency, could be hampered if there are unjustified commercial irritants that are not supported by sufficient scientific evidence," 19 agricultural groups said in a letter sent to Sonny Perdue, Secretary of Agriculture, on Sept. 26.
In that letter, they made express references to US restrictions on imports of avocados from Mexico. The Association of Producers and Packers Exporters of Avocado in Mexico criticized that, if there is no technical justification for delaying the work plan, it should be signed, since it has already been declared that there is no phytosanitary problem.
In January, the first 100 tons of avocados produced in Jalisco that were attempted to export to the US market could not do so because of the work plan issue.
"We have not been able to export avocados from Jalisco to the United States for 100 years, and the idea is that the region of Jalisco will now be opened, and then we can move forward with the region of the State of Mexico and Puebla," said Josť Calzada, Secretary of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food.
Mexico ranks as the largest exporter of avocado in the world, with a quota of 46%, which means that almost one of every two avocados sold abroad is of Mexican origin. Other important suppliers are Holland, Peru, Chile and Spain.
The United States began opening its market in 1997, following an 83 year old embargo on Mexican avocados. The last stage occurred on January 31, 2007, when it allowed imports to California, Florida and Hawaii.