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U.S. & Mexican Officials Meet to Discuss NAFTA

January 10, 2008



MEXICO CITY — United States and Mexican officials met
yesterday to discuss the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which was
fully implemented on Jan. 1 of this year.

“NAFTA has been a positive force for our respective
agricultural sectors, creating not only dramatic growth in two-way agricultural
trade, but providing our farmers, ranchers and processors with the potential to
take advantage of new export opportunities, while providing a clear and certain
path to enhanced trade,” said Mark E. Keenum, Under Secretary for Farm and
Foreign Agricultural Services of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  “The
purpose of this meeting was to ensure that full implementation of NAFTA
continues to move smoothly.”

Keenum and James M. Murphy, Assistant U.S. Trade
Representative for Agricultural Affairs, led the U.S.
delegation.  USDA’s Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs
Bruce Knight and Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Richard Raymond, were
members of the delegation.

”We noted that full elimination of all duties in our
bilateral trade is a reason to celebrate and to look forward to more successes,”
said Murphy.  “We agreed we should not look backwards and risk all we have
accomplished.  At a time when we see rising prices for many commodities,
open trade between Mexico and
the United
States also provides benefits for our

To address trade concerns in the livestock sector, the
United States and
Mexico agreed to establish a working
group.  The livestock working group will meet by

The Mexican delegation was led by Under Secretary Beatriz
Leycegui of the Ministry of the Economy (Economia) and Under Secretaries Jeffrey
Jones and Francisco Lopez Tostado, both of the Ministry of Agriculture,
Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food Supply. 

and Mexico are the No. 1 and
No. 2 export markets for U.S. agriculture, respectively. 
In fiscal year 2007, two-way agricultural trade between the United States and Mexico was
valued at a record $22.2 billion, a nearly fourfold increase over fiscal
1993—the year preceding the implementation of NAFTA—when two-way trade was
valued at $6.4 billion.  In fiscal 2008, USDA predicts two-way trade will
continue to accelerate to $24 billion, an 8-percent increase.

With the full implementation of NAFTA, the final duties on
a handful of agricultural commodities are now removed.  These final
commodities include U.S.
exports to Mexico of corn,
dry edible beans, and nonfat dry milk, Mexican exports to the
States of certain horticultural products, and
two-way sweetener trade.

The United
States continues to work with Mexico to build
on the successes achieved to date.  Since 2005, the United States
has invested nearly $20 million in programs and technical exchanges to assist
Mexican producers in addressing production, distribution and marketing-related
challenges.  “We will continue to work with Mexico on a
broad range of cooperative activities and initiatives associated with the
transition to full and open trade,” Keenum said.

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