The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative Monday reinforced USDA's position that Mexico’s proposed restrictions on genetically modified corn would break its commitments under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, despite Mexican proposals to soften the rules.

A statement issued by USTR and attributed to Doug McKalip, chief ag negotiator for USTR, and Alexis Taylor, USDA undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs, said Mexico’s latest attempt at a compromise was appreciated but still fell short.

Taylor and McKalip were in Mexico City Monday to meet with officials including Roberto Velasco Álvarez, chief officer for North America at Mexico’s Foreign Affairs Department.

Mexico’s latest proposals “are not sufficient and Mexico’s proposed approach, which is not grounded in science, still threatens to disrupt billions of dollars in bilateral agricultural trade, cause serious economic harm to U.S. farmers and Mexican livestock producers, and stifle important innovations needed to help producers respond to pressing climate and food security challenges,” the statement said.

National Corn Growers Association President Tom Haag said Monday he was pleased at the stance USTR is taking.

“(USDA Secretary Tom) Vilsack and USTR Ambassador (Katherine) Tai are making it crystal clear that they are going to make the Mexican government abide by what it agreed to under USMCA,” Haag said. “These leaders understand that banning biotech corn would deliver a blow to American farmers and exacerbate current food insecurity in Mexico by drastically raising prices for corn, basic foods and other critical products derived from corn in the Mexican economy.”

The Mexican presidential decree would ban genetically modified corn imports beginning in January, 2024, but government officials traveled to Washington last month to present a compromise.

The Mexican officials proposed delaying implementation for a year, reconsidering rejections of petitions for GM corn trait and exempting imports of feed corn from restrictions. As to imports of white corn, Mexico said those could enter but not go into food, such as tortillas.

The USTR statement said, “We appreciate our Mexican counterparts’ time and dedication in trying to hammer out a solution. We made it clear today that if this issue is not resolved, we will consider all options, including taking formal steps to enforce our rights under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.”