United States Establishes USMCA Dispute Panel on Mexico’s Agricultural Biotechnology Measures

August 17, 2023

WASHINGTON ­– United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai today announced that the United States is establishing a dispute settlement panel under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) regarding certain Mexican measures concerning biotech corn.  The United States is challenging measures set out in Mexico’s February 13, 2023 decree, specifically the ban on use of biotech corn in tortillas or dough, and the instruction to Mexican government agencies to gradually substitute—i.e., ban—the use of biotech corn in all products for human consumption and for animal feed.  Mexico’s measures are not based on science and undermine the market access it agreed to provide in the USMCA.
“The United States has used the tools provided by the USMCA in attempting to resolve concerns with Mexico’s biotechnology measures. Today, the United States is taking the next step in enforcing Mexico’s obligations under the USMCA,” said Ambassador Katherine Tai. “Through the USMCA dispute panel, we seek to resolve our concerns and help ensure consumers can continue to access safe and affordable food and agricultural products. It is critical that Mexico eliminate its USMCA-inconsistent biotechnology measures so that American farmers can continue to access the Mexican market and use innovative tools to respond to climate and food security challenges. Our bilateral relationship with Mexico, one of our oldest and strongest trading partners, is rooted in trust and honesty, and there are many areas where we will continue to cooperate and work together.”

“Mexico’s approach to biotechnology is not based on science and runs counter to decades’ worth of evidence demonstrating its safety and the rigorous, science-based regulatory review system that ensures it poses no harm to human health and the environment. Innovations in agricultural biotechnology play a key role in advancing solutions to our shared global challenges, including food and nutrition insecurity, the climate crisis and the lingering effects of food price inflation,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “By requesting the establishment of a dispute settlement panel with Mexico, the United States is continuing to exercise its rights under the USMCA to ensure that U.S. producers and exporters have full and fair access to the Mexican market. We will continue to support fair, open, science- and rules-based trade, which serves as the foundation of the USMCA as it was agreed to by all parties.”

Today’s announcement follows extensive engagement by the United States with the Government of Mexico on its biotechnology policies.  
On January 30, 2023, the United States sent a formal, written request to Mexico under the USMCA SPS Chapter (Article 9.6.14) for “an explanation of the reasons for” and “pertinent relevant information regarding” certain Mexican measures concerning biotechnology products. 
In March 2023, the United States requested and held technical consultations with Mexico regarding its biotechnology measures under the USMCA SPS Chapter, but the consultations did not resolve the matter. 
In June 2023, the United States requested and held dispute settlement consultations with Mexico regarding its biotechnology measures under the USMCA Dispute Settlement Chapter, but these consultations also failed to resolve the matter.
Throughout our engagements, the United States has been clear that it would consider all options, including further steps to enforce U.S. rights under the USMCA, if Mexico did not return to science- and risk-based biotechnology policies that are in compliance with USMCA commitments.  Through the action announced today, we will seek to resolve U.S. concerns fully.
USTR officials have worked closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture on this matter, and both agencies will continue working together, in consultation with stakeholders, to obtain Mexico’s full compliance with its USMCA commitments.
Copy of the dispute panel request

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