US Trade Representative Continues to Raise Trade IssuesBy Jan Hogewoning | Mon, 06/29/2020 - 16:54
As reported by UDGtv, the president of the National Council on Agriculture, Bosco de La Vega, stated last week that while he foresees that USMCA will bring great potential for Mexican export to its biggest destination market, he also feels particularly worried about several issues. The primary concerns of CNA, he indicated, are labor lawsuits, environmental regulations and especially seasonality quotas, brough on by US parties. The latter has been part of longer issues raised by US Trade Representatives Robert Lighthizer during the USMCA negotiations. In the eyes of De La Vega, these quotas would ‘violate the USMCA treaty and the World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.’ The US could invoke these weapons, Bosco de la Vega feels, as ‘political offers to win more votes, especially in Florida and Georgia.’ This, he fears, could complicate the mechanisms for dispute resolution embedded in the new trade agreement.
The above mentioned weapons are not the only tools the US is hinting at. Robert Lighthizer has publicly lamented the fact that Mexico had not approved US biotech applications. He indicated that he would initiate talks about this topic after July 1st, the day when USMCA comes into force. In response, a Mexican federal representative stated that COFEPRIS had not been able to process any applications of biotech, in part due to complications related to COVID-19. However, according to El Economista, the body has not taken any decision about biotech since May 2018. The Law of Biosecurity demands that COFEPRIS officially makes a decision about the approval of biotech six months in advance of the product arriving in the country. US representatives are now demanding that the Mexican government assures that COFEPRIS will meet its commitment, and complete the approval of biotech without unnecessary delay, while doing so in a transparent process.
One of the biotech products that has been in the spotlight is biotechnologically cultivated cotton, for which Mexico has denied approval. El Economista reports, that the office of the US Trade Representative has pointed out that this crop has been grown in Mexico for 25 years without an adverse impact on biodiversity. Another product that was denied by Mexico is the weedkiller Roundup, a product that has been linked to cancer. This very week, its manufacturer, Bayer, chose to settle all lawsuits on the product in the US, costing the company approximately US$10.9 billion. Two weeks ago, US Senator Chuck Grassley, President of the Senate Finance Committee, said the United States could lead Mexico to at least two state-state dispute settlement panels, with cases related to glyphosate blockade and suspension of agricultural biotechnology permits.