May 10, 2021
US Trade Representative urged to keep pressure on Mexico in potatoes trade

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai met virtually May 3 with the National Potato Council (NPC) to discuss the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) ahead of her upcoming trilateral meeting with representatives from Canada and Mexico to review the implementation of the Agreement.

NPC CEO Kam Quarles and Bryant Christie’s Matt Lantz spoke with her about the industry’s trade priorities, including the next steps in our continued effort to open the full Mexican market for fresh U.S. potatoes.

US Mexico flagsAfter the meeting, Quarles commented that, “It was a great opportunity to thank Ambassador Tai and the USTR staff for all their work in pushing the Mexico fresh potato dispute toward a final resolution. We share the intention to reinstate full U.S. market access in the next few months, to the benefit of both countries.”

However, the work in Mexico is far from complete. The U.S. potato industry, along with our partners at USTR and USDA, are in close contact with the Mexican regulators who need to reinstate the access that U.S. growers lost when the lawsuits were filed to stop the regulations from taking palace.

“The fortunate part of this is we’re not creating a new market access agreement: we’re simply reinstating what was already there. That gives us a lot of optimism that this can happen rapidly, but only with constant pressure from the U.S. government,” said Quarles.

Re-entry to TPP urged by some Congress members

On May 6, a bipartisan group of House and Senate members wrote to U.S. Trade Representative Tai urging her to “consider the merits and demerits of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which was signed by the 11 other TPP countries in 2018 without the United States.”

The group argued that that President Trump’s 2017 decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership was misguided, and that the Biden Administration should consider joining the CPTPP in order to strengthen U.S. leadership in the global economy and reinforce the country’s commitment to fair international trade.

NPC continues to advocate for the restoration of tariff benefits lost though U.S. withdrawal of the trade pact and/or rejoining the TPP or a similar multilateral trade pact in Asia to support the growth of that vital potato export market.

“With 20% of all U.S. potatoes destined for foreign markets in some form, we must stay on a level playing field with other countries. The Trans-Pacific Partnership is ideal for accomplishing that goal,” said Jared Balcom, NPC VP of Trade Affairs.

Biden admin outlines conservation vision 

The Biden Administration recently outlined a vision for how the U.S. can work collaboratively to conserve and restore the lands, waters, and wildlife that support and sustain the nation. The recommendations contained in a report outline a locally led and voluntary nationwide conservation goal to conserve 30% of U.S. lands and waters by 2030.

The report outlines eight principles that should guide the nationwide effort, including: a pursuit of collaborative approaches; a commitment to supporting the voluntary conservation efforts of farmers, ranchers, and fishers; and honoring of Tribal sovereignty and private property rights.

Based on feedback gathered in the administration’s first 100 days, the report identifies six priority areas for the administration’s early focus, investments, and collaboration:

  • Creating more parks and safe outdoor opportunities in nature-deprived communities;
  • Supporting Tribally led conservation and restoration priorities;
  • Expanding collaborative conservation of fish and wildlife habitats and corridors.
  • Increasing access for outdoor recreation;
  • Incentivizing and rewarding the voluntary conservation efforts of fishers, ranchers, farmers, and forest owners; and,
  • Creating jobs by investing in restoration and resilience projects and initiatives, including the Civilian Climate Corps.

The full report can be found here.

— National Potato Council


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