Supreme court considers overturning import ban


22 February 2021
Supreme court considers overturning import ban

THE National Potato Council (NPC) which advocates the economic wellbeing of US potato growers, is urging Mexico’s Supreme Court justices to overturn a ban on US fresh potato imports.

Last Wednesday the Mexican Supreme Court released a draft ruling that would overturn a 2017 lower court decision preventing the Mexican federal government from implementing regulations to allow for the importation of fresh US potatoes throughout the country.

The case is scheduled to be decided by the five-member Supreme Court on Wednesday.

NPC Vice President of Trade Affairs Jared Balcom said in a recent interview with The Packer:
“Full Mexican market access for fresh US potatoes has been one of the highest priorities for the National Potato Council and the entire U. potato industry for well over two decades. We are hopeful the majority of justices will agree with this draft ruling.” 

The issue before the Mexican Supreme Court, and resolved by this draft ruling, began as numerous individual legal cases filed by the Mexican potato cartel “CONPAPA” in response to the Mexican government’s announcement in 2011 that they would open the country to US fresh potatoes. The cartel’s lawsuit claims that the Mexican government has no authority to determine if agricultural imports can enter the country.  

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The draft ruling rejects that argument and affirms that the Mexican government broadly has the authority to make such a determination and specifically acted appropriately with regard to US potato access.

Since the publication Mexico’s phytosanitary rule (NOM-012-FITO-1996) in 1996, the country has restricted the importation of fresh US potatoes to a 26 kilometer-area along the US-Mexico border. 

In March 2003, the United States and Mexico signed a bilateral market access agreement that called for increased access to the five northern Mexican states in 2004, and for consideration of access to the entire country in the following year. Because of limits imposed by the Mexican government, the plans for full market access were halted.

In 2011, the Mexican government finally agreed to allow US potatoes full access to their market beginning in May 2014; however, Mexico’s potato industry sued the Mexican government to maintain their domestic monopoly and prevent competition from imports. The cases made their way through the lower courts, eventually arriving before the Mexican Supreme Court in 2018. On February 24, 2021 the Mexican Supreme Court is scheduled to finally rule on the issue. 

Mexico is the third largest export market for US potatoes and products.

Source: The Packer

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