United States and Mexican officials met recently to discuss the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which was fully implemented on Jan. 1 of this year.
"NAFTA has been a positive force for our respective agricultural sectors, creating not only dramatic growth in two-way agricultural trade, but providing our farmers, ranchers and processors with the potential to take advantage of new export opportunities, while providing a clear and certain path to enhanced trade," said Mark E. Keenum, Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
"The purpose of this meeting was to ensure full implementation of NAFTA continues to move smoothly."
Keenum and James M. Murphy, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Agricultural Affairs, led the U.S. delegation. USDA's Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Bruce Knight and Under Secretary for Food Safety Richard Raymond, were members of the delegation.
"We noted that full elimination of all duties in our bilateral trade is a reason to celebrate and to look forward to more successes," said Murphy. "We agreed we should not look backwards and risk all we have accomplished. At a time when we see rising prices for many commodities, open trade between Mexico and the United States also provides benefits for our consumers."
To address trade concerns in the livestock sector, the United States and Mexico agreed to establish a working group. The livestock working group will meet by mid-February.
The Mexican delegation was led by Under Secretary Beatriz Leycegui of the Ministry of the Economy (Economia) and Under Secretaries Jeffrey Jones and Francisco Lopez Tostado, both of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food Supply.
Canada and Mexico are the No. 1 and No. 2 export markets for U.S. agriculture, respectively. In fiscal year 2007, two-way agricultural trade between the United States and Mexico was valued at a record $22.2 billion, a nearly fourfold increase over fiscal 1993-the year preceding the implementation of NAFTA-when two-way trade was valued at $6.4 billion. In fiscal 2008, USDA predicts two-way trade will continue to accelerate to $24 billion, an 8-percent increase.
With the full implementation of NAFTA, the final duties on a handful of agricultural commodities are now removed. These final commodities include U.S. exports to Mexico of corn, dry edible beans, and non-fat dry milk, Mexican exports to the United States of certain horticultural products, and two-way sweetener trade.
The United States continues to work with Mexico to build on the successes achieved to date. Since 2005, the United States has invested nearly $20 million in programs and technical exchanges to assist Mexican producers in addressing production, distribution and marketing-related challenges.
"We will continue to work with Mexico on a broad range of cooperative activities and initiatives associated with the transition to full and open trade," Keenum said.