Draft ruling would allow U.S. spuds in all of Mexico

The Mexican Supreme Court released a draft ruling Feb. 17 that would overturn a 2017 lower court decision preventing the Mexican federal government from implementing regulations to allow for the importation of fresh U.S. potatoes throughout the country. 

The case is scheduled to be decided by the five-member Supreme Court on February 24.

“Full Mexican market access for fresh U.S. potatoes has been one of the highest priorities for the National Potato Council and the entire U.S. potato industry for well over two decades. We are hopeful the majority of justices will agree with this draft ruling and finally allow the Mexican government to live up to its global trade responsibilities,” said Jared Balcom, vice president of trade affairs for the National Potato Council.

“A positive decision on Feb. 24 would represent a giant leap forward in the decades-old effort to provide Mexican consumers with year-round access to fresh, healthy U.S. potatoes,” said NPC CEO Kam Quarles. “We are grateful for the hard work of the teams at USDA and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and their counterparts in the Mexican government who have been working for years to lift these protectionist restrictions.”

The issue before the Mexican Supreme Court, and resolved by this draft ruling, began as numerous individual legal cases filed by the Mexican potato cartel “CONPAPA” in response to the Mexican government’s announcement in 2011 that it would open the country to U.S. fresh potatoes. 

In March 2003, the United States and Mexico signed a bilateral market access agreement that called for increased access to the five northern Mexican states in 2004, and for consideration of access to the entire country in the following year. 

Due to limits imposed by the Mexican government, the plans for full market access were halted.

In 2011, the Mexican government finally agreed to allow U.S. potatoes full access to their market beginning in May 2014; however, Mexico’s potato industry sued the Mexican government to maintain their domestic monopoly and prevent competition from imports. 

The cases made their way through the lower courts, eventually arriving before the Mexican Supreme Court in 2018. The Mexican Supreme Court is scheduled to finally rule on the issue on Feb. 24. 

The U.S. potato industry estimates that access to the entire country for fresh U.S. potatoes will provide a market potential of $200 million per year in five years.

For more information: idahofb.org

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