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New trade agreement good news for spud exports to Mexico

The recent approval of an updated trade agreement for North America is good news for U.S. potato growers who do business in Mexico, according to the top official with the potato industry’s lobbying organization. 

National Potato Council CEO Kam Quarles said Tuesday’s announcement of the signing of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement should “stabilize” potato exports to America’s southern neighbor.

More than $250 million in U.S. potato products are currently shipped annually into Mexico, which is the third largest foreign market for U.S. spuds behind Japan and Canada, according to NPC.

Fries and processed potato products represent the bulk of exports to Mexico, due to the country’s current restriction on accepting fresh U.S. potato shipments beyond about 16 miles from its border with the U.S. 

Quarles said U.S. spud growers were hurt by retaliatory tariffs Mexico imposed on their products in response to tariffs the U.S. placed on Mexican steel and aluminum. Those tariffs were removed about a year ago, but Quarles said the new agreement should “take uncertainty off the table” about tariffs returning. 

Furthermore, the USMCA contains language that should prevent participants from using perceived pest and disease issues as baseless excuses to limit imports. 

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