Mexico No Longer No. 1 Buyer of U.S. Corn After Trade Tensions

7/6/2017 Bloomberg

corn by World Bank Photo Collection
Photo by World Bank Photo Collection

U.S. corn shipments to Mexico are faltering and the country is no longer the biggest importer, a sign that trade tensions are driving it into the arms of other suppliers.

Sales to Mexico through May were $1.04 billion, down 6.7 percent from a year earlier, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Thursday in a monthly update. That contrasts with the 32 percent increase for the overall value of U.S. corn exports in the period, during which the average dollar value of the commodity was little changed. Japan boosted its purchases 53 percent to $1.19 billion to become the largest importer of American corn.

Mexico has initiated talks with other major corn exporters this year after it was criticized by President Donald Trump, who said the country has taken advantage of its northern neighbor through the North American Free Trade Agreement, taking away jobs and investment. The dispute helped to send the Mexican peso to a record low against the dollar in January.

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Mexico says NAFTA agriculture ministers to meet next week

6/14/2017 Reuters

23854071503_8135901142_b.jpg
Canadian Minister of Agriculture Lawrence MacAulay. Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture/Flickr

Mexico’s agriculture minister will visit the United States next week to meet with his U.S. and Canadian counterparts to begin talks on renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, the Mexican government said on Wednesday.

Mexico’s Jose Calzada will meet U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Canadian Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay during a visit from June 19 to 22 to Perdue’s home state of Georgia, the agriculture ministry said in a statement.

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Mexico’s Native Crops Hold Key to Food Security, Ecologist Says

Mexico’s ancient civilizations cultivated crops such as maize, tomatoes and chilies for thousands of years before the Spanish conquerors arrived — and now those native plants could hold the key to sustainable food production as climate change bites, said a leading ecologist.

José Sarukhán Kermez, who helped set up Mexico’s pioneering National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity (CONABIO), said that analyzing the genetic variability of traditional crops, and supporting the family farmers who grow most of the world’s food offered an alternative to industrial agriculture.

“We don’t need to manipulate hugely the genetic characteristics of these [crops] … because that biodiversity is there — you have to just select and use it with the knowledge of the people who have been doing that for thousands of years,” said Sarukhán, CONABIO’s national coordinator, in a telephone interview.

The emeritus professor and former rector of the National University of Mexico (UNAM) recently won the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, often referred to as a “Nobel for the Environment.”

Making use of the knowledge held by indigenous groups is “absolutely essential,” Sarukhán told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

That requires working with a wide range of people, from local cooks to small-scale farmers, especially in states like Oaxaca and Chiapas in the south of Mexico where indigenous farmers have a strong traditional culture, he said.

“They haven’t gone to university, and they don’t have a degree — but they damn well know how to do these things,” he said.

For example, they discover and incorporate new knowledge as they exchange seeds with peers from different areas.

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Mexico sugar lobby says still wants dumping probe of U.S. fructose

6/7/2017 Reuters

Sugar
Flickr/Coralie Ferreira

Mexican sugar producers still want an investigation into suspected dumping in Mexico by U.S. fructose producers even after a U.S.-Mexico deal on access to the U.S. market for Mexican sugar, the head of the Mexican sugar industry group said on Wednesday.

The sugar lobby last month said it had asked the Mexican economy ministry to investigate U.S. high fructose corn syrup imports, saying there was “solid” evidence of dumping.

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U.S., Mexico reach sugar pact despite U.S. producer resistance

6/6/2017 Reuters

Workers sit next to bags containing sugar at the San Francisco Ameca sugar factory in the town of Ameca
REUTERS/Alejandro Acosta/Files

Mexico on Tuesday conceded to U.S. demands for changes in the terms of Mexican access to the lucrative U.S. sugar market, striking a deal with Washington that will likely lift prices of the sweetener to U.S. food processors and consumers.

Sugar producers in the United States refused to endorse the agreement in principle between the two governments after pushing for even more concessions from Mexico, raising the possibility that the deal could collapse.

The agreement in principle between U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo aims to resolve a long-standing trade dispute between the two countries.

Without it, the United States could have reimposed steep import duties on its southern neigbour and risked the prospect of a retaliation from Mexico just as the two countries and Canada prepare to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement this year.

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U.S., Mexico nearing deal on sugar trade: Mexican economy minister

6/6/2017 Reuters

Workers sit next to bags containing sugar at the San Francisco Ameca sugar factory in the town of Ameca
REUTERS/Alejandro Acosta/Files

The United States and Mexico are close to announcing a sugar trade deal that will avert steep U.S. duties on Mexican sugar imports and clear a major obstacle from renegotiation of the NAFTA trade agreement, Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said on Tuesday.

The deal, which was still coming together on Tuesday morning, will reduce the share of refined sugar that Mexico can export to the United States but maintain Mexico’s overall access to the U.S. sugar market, Guajardo said on Mexican radio.

Guajardo told CNBC earlier on Tuesday that he and U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross would “probably” be announcing an agreement at a news conference scheduled for 1:45 p.m. (1745 GMT) at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington.

An agreement would help avoid potential retaliation from Mexico on imports of U.S. high-fructose corn syrup, a trade battle that would heighten U.S.-Mexico tensions as both countries along with Canada prepare to begin renegotiating the 23-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement in August.

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Mexico to cut share of refined sugar sent to U.S., minister says

6/6/2017 Reuters

Cut_sugarcaneMexico will reduce the proportion of refined sugar it can export to the United States to 30 percent under a new agreement likely to be announced later today, Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said on Mexican radio on Tuesday.

Currently, the proportion of refined sugar exports from total sugar exports Mexico can send to the United States is 53 percent.

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