New economic partnership may endanger Mexican farmers

Some Mexican farmers fear that the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement negotiations, which Mexico is to join in December, may threaten the country’s agricultural sector. Farmers in the U.S., one of the future partners in the treaty, have asked their government to negotiate flexibility in the phytosanitary measures applied by Mexico, which are the final barrier against free entrance of agricultural products that compete against local crops.

The Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement went into effect in 2006 with four original members: Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore. In 2007, negotiations got under way for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a significantly expanded version of the treaty. In 2008, Australia, Peru, the United States and Vietnam joined the negotiations, and Malaysia joined in 2010.

In June 2012 Canada and Mexico became part of the negotiations. Japan has also expressed an interest, but is only an observer, and has not yet formally entered the negotiations.

There have been 14 rounds of talks on the TPP, the latest in the United States in September. The next round will be held in December in New Zealand, which Mexico will join. This step is anxiously awaited by the U.S. agricultural sector, which looks forward to a total opening of the Mexican market.

Mexico’s agricultural trade became wide open to Canada and the U.S. when the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) entered into force in 1994. However, there were some important exceptions to unrestricted entry of goods, and some non-tariff barriers were established, such as phytosanitary measures.

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