Mexico imposes 50% tariff on corn imports amidst trade dispute with U.S., Canada

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador speaks during his regularly scheduled morning press conference at the National Palace in Mexico City, Feb. 28, 2023.  (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte, File)

Mexico City—Mexico has implemented a 50% tariff on imports of white corn in an effort to promote domestic production and prevent the importation of genetically modified corn. The measure, which went into effect on Saturday and will remain in place until the end of the year, comes amid a trade dispute between Mexico and its North American trade partners, Canada and the United States, over genetically modified corn.

The initial exemption of white corn from tariffs earlier this year as a means of controlling inflation was found to have had little impact on decreasing prices in the national market, leading to the decision to eliminate the exemption. Despite inflation being relatively under control in Mexico, the government felt it necessary to take action to protect its agricultural sector.

Mexico imports a significant amount of white corn, primarily for human consumption, from the United States and South Africa. However, the imposition of tariffs may complicate the trade dispute with the US and Canada over genetically modified corn, as it goes against the terms of the US-Mexico-Canada Free Trade Agreement. Mexico is seeking to restrict the importation of genetically modified white corn for human consumption and, eventually, yellow corn for animal feed. The US and Canada argue that this would negatively impact regional trade. Mexico has been importing genetically modified feed corn from the US for many years, with an annual value of approximately $3 billion.

The US and Canada have criticized Mexico’s concerns about the safety of genetically modified corn, stating that they are not supported by scientific evidence. Canada has even joined the United States in requesting a trade dispute panel over Mexico’s proposed restrictions on genetically modified corn imports. If Mexico is found to have violated the US-Mexico-Canada Free Trade Agreement, trade sanctions could be implemented.

Despite the controversy surrounding the issue, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador remains committed to using only domestic white corn for human consumption. He believes that this is necessary to protect the health and well-being of the Mexican people.

 

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