Mexico eyes duty-free corn deals to counter Trump

3/26/2017 Financial Times

cornMexico, the world’s biggest buyer of US corn, is considering offering duty-free access to Brazilian and Argentine maize as an alternative to American imports in a move that could have big consequences for US farmers worried about Donald Trump’s trade and tax agenda.

Mexico at present imports 98 per cent of its corn from the US, and total US farm sales to Mexico were $17.7bn last year — five times greater than when the North American Free Trade Agreement came into force in 1994. Mexican corn imports from the US were worth $2.3bn in 2015, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

But Mr Trump, US president, has slammed Nafta as unfair to the US, vowing to renegotiate the deal or walk away, impelling Mexico to speed up a search for alternative suppliers in South America.

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Some Mexicans want to retaliate against Trump by boycotting a $2.5 billion export

3/23/2017 Business Insider

corn - loose yellow cornMany in Mexico have contemplated how Mexico could retaliate against President Donald Trump since he debuted his anti-Mexican rhetoric during the campaign.

In the weeks after Trump’s election, as his hardline on trade relations and immigration remained firm, Mexico’s government appeared to outline how it could rebuke the US government should it install hostile policies.

“If they place on us a tax on Mexican exports,” Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray told the Chamber of Deputies in late February, according La Jornada, “we are going to put one on them, but better, because we are going to choose [those exports] which hurt them.”

His remarks came a few days after Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said Mexico needed to prepare to immediately “take a fiscal action that clearly neutralizes” a potential US border tax.

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Wary of Protectionism, U.S. Agriculture Wages Charm Offensive to Save Mexican Exports

3/23/2017 Foreign Policy

produceAmerican food producers are turning into diplomats, flying to Mexico to bolster decades-old business relationships now fraying under the protectionist trade shift in Washington.

The Trump administration’s plan to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement has thrown a cloud of uncertainty over the trade terms that have underpinned Mexico’s growth for the past two decades and made it the third-largest export market for American farmers.

As buyers and the Mexican government start to look at getting their food from countries other than the United States, several U.S. industry officials have headed south of the border in recent weeks to reassure them that Mexico is still a valued customer.

U.S. food producers have noticed a chill in their conversations with longtime customers, and some are seeing their sales to Mexico stall, according to industry officials. Meanwhile, buyers are telling their U.S. suppliers that they are exploring new sources of grains, corn, dairy products, and meat for fear that Mexico will revive tariffs on agricultural products that went to zero after NAFTA.

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Mexico cancels sugar export permits to the U.S. in ‘absurd’ dispute

3/7/2017 Reuters

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

Mexico has canceled existing sugar export permits to the United States to avoid penalties in a dispute over the pace of shipments, a document seen by Reuters said, partly blaming the issue on unfilled positions at the U.S. Department of Commerce.

It was not immediately clear what impact the cancellation would have on exports to the United States. The document, sent by Mexico’s sugar chamber to mills on Monday, said existing permits would be reissued in April.

Mexico’s sugar mills are currently in full swing at the height of the harvest. The amount of sugar sent to the United States varies from season to season, with the document referring to a quota of 820,000 tonnes in 2016/2017.

Ties between the United States and Mexico have frayed under Donald Trump, who sees trade skewed to favor the southern neighbor and is seeking to renegotiate the North American Free Trade agreement.

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Boll Weevil: A Scourge That America and Mexico Fight Together

3/1/2017 New York Times

weevilRÍO BRAVO, Mexico — It has bedeviled the United States for more than a century, becoming a bane of the American South, causing widespread job losses and setting off countless debates about stopping migration from Latin America.

This is a wave that even the biggest, most expensive wall might never hold back.

We’re talking about the boll weevil.

It is just one of the many issues that rely on bilateral cooperation between the United States and Mexico, and it embodies, in microcosm, many of the essential qualities of the broader relationship between the two countries: an alliance bordering on codependence despite economic, political and cultural differences.

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Mexico Is Moving Forward on a Plan to Hit U.S. Farmers Where It Hurts

2/17/2017 Fortune 

corn farmMexico’s attempts to diversify its supplies of corn could threaten a crucial market for U.S. farmers who are increasingly dependent on exports to unload record stockpiles that are depressing prices.

Mexico buys nearly all its corn imports from the United States – shipments that totaled 13.603 million tonnes in the year ending Aug. 31, 2016. The sales account for about 28% of total U.S. corn exports, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

But now Mexico wants to lessen that dependence as U.S. President Donald Trump threatens to upend trade between the countries. On Thursday, Mexico’s agriculture minister revealed plans to visit Argentina and Brazil to buy yellow corn.

A grain buyer at a corn mill in Mexico told Reuters in an email on Thursday he had already asked for price quotes from Brazilian and Argentine exporters for corn shipments to Mexico.

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Why Ditching NAFTA Could Hurt America’s Farmers More Than Mexico’s

2/16/2017 NPR

15131653951_2f45cb9011_h.jpg
via Flickr – Mike Mozart

Garland Reiter is one of the people behind the rise in imported food from Mexico.

His family has been growing strawberries in California for generations and selling them under the name Driscoll’s. Today, it’s the biggest berry producer in the world.

In the early 1990s, the Reiter family started growing strawberries and raspberries in Mexico, in addition to California. It found regions in Mexico where the climate allowed them to grow the fruit — especially raspberries — during seasons of the year when it hadn’t been feasible back home. “Our move really was for year-round product, and quality,” says Reiter, who is executive chairman of Reiter Associated Cos.

The North American Free Trade Agreement went into effect at that same time, in 1994. But that’s coincidence, Reiter says; NAFTA had very little to do with the move into Mexico. “To tell you the truth, we paid minimal attention to that,” he says.