US-Mexico Potato Trade Issue: ‘Mexican court ruling ignores science’, says NPC

In a statement released last night, the National Potato Council (NPC) in the US says the recent ruling by a district court judge in Los Mochis to continue the ban on US potatoes in most of Mexico “ignores science and directly threatens the role of the Mexican plant health regulatory authority, SAGARPA”. In the statement, the NPC further says the ruling contradicts the conclusions of SAGARPA, USDA and third party experts that have reviewed the potential impact of the importation of fresh potatoes from the United States to Mexico. In its statement, NPC points out that SAGARPA has completed and published a Pest Risk Assessment “that demonstrates that any risk from the entry of U.S. fresh potatoes can be safely mitigated”. Similar analysis by a panel of third party experts facilitated by the North American Plant Protection Organization (NAPPO) reached a similar conclusion, NPC says in its statement. The organization is of the opinion that the ruling, while of direct relevance to potato trade, could also have a significant impact on trade in a variety of plant and animal products by undermining the regulatory authority of government plant health authorities in Mexico.

NPC expects the ruling to be appealed by parties with a direct interest in the case, including SAGARPA. The U.S. potato industry is confident that a more thorough review of the facts of this case and the acknowledgement of established phytosanitary trade practices by the judicial system in Mexico will alter the outcome of this decision.

NPC concludes its statement by saying: “Based on the initial review by our legal team, the ruling will not limit the movement of U.S. potatoes into the 26 km zone along the border. Potato growers in the U.S. have been supplying Mexican consumers in this region with potatoes since Mexico and the U.S. signed a bilateral agreement in 2003. That agreement called for an expansion of access for U.S. potatoes to all of Mexico. Actions taken by SAGARPA in 2013 finally implemented the full scope of this agreement, but challenge to those actions by Mexican potato growers has prevented all Mexican consumers from having access to U.S. potatoes”.