Mexico’s top court issued a five-to-zero ruling on Wednesday that would allow the Mexican government to follow through on a promise to lift a barrier to imports of U.S. fresh potatoes, according to a statement released by the U.S.-based National Potato Council.
“Today’s ruling comes as welcome news for Idaho potato growers,” Idaho GOP Sen. Jim Risch said in a statement. “I’m proud to continue advocating for the Gem State’s ag producers so people across the world can enjoy our state’s most famous product.”
Mexico agreed about 20 years ago to partially open its borders to U.S. potatoes. Out of concerns for pests and disease, the spuds were only allowed to be sold within 26 kilometers of the U.S.-Mexico border. Ten years later, the two countries reached a deal that would allow full access to U.S. potatoes. Mexico, in return, would be allowed to enter into negotiations to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Mexican potato farmers were irate and filed several lawsuits. A Mexican district court ruled in favor of the farmers in 2017, finding the Mexican government’s risk assessment on U.S. potatoes was flawed.
The Mexican government appealed the ruling and its Supreme Court ruled Wednesday in the government’s favor.
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The ruling, said Jared Balcom, vice president of trade affairs for the National Potato Council, “represents a major step forward in the U.S. potato industry’s efforts to provide consumers throughout Mexico access to fresh, healthy U.S.-grown potatoes. “After decades of delay, we hope this ruling represents a light at the end of the tunnel and that Mexican regulators will immediately begin working on regulations to allow for the importation of fresh U.S. potatoes throughout their country.”
The U.S. exports about $60 million worth of fresh potatoes to Mexico every year despite the 26-kilometer limit. If the Mexican government now follows through and lifts the restriction, U.S. exports could rise to as high as $200 million per year over five years, according to NPC.
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