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US And Mexican Authorities Meet To Discuss NAFTA, Technical Assistance

by Mike Godfrey,, Washington

10 May 2007

The United States and Mexico on Tuesday held the inaugural meeting of the US-Mexico Consultative Committee on Agriculture (CCA), following renewal of the bilateral forum by the two governments in March 2007.

Mark E. Keenum, Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services of the US Department of Agriculture, and Ambassador Richard T. Crowder, Chief Agricultural Trade Negotiator of the Office of the US Trade Representative, led the US delegation. Under Secretary Beatriz Leycegui of the Ministry of the Economy and Under Secretary Francisco Lopez Tostado of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries, and Food Supply (SAGARPA) led the delegation from Mexico.

“The United States and Mexico held constructive, wide-ranging discussions today on a host of critical issues facing our agricultural sectors. Key among them is full implementation of the remaining provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 2008,” Keenum announced on Tuesday, adding:

“The agricultural trade teams of both countries will remain in close contact over the coming months to maintain momentum on outstanding issues,” said Crowder. “We remain confident that through continued cooperation and dialogue, we can successfully reach full implementation of NAFTA on Jan. 1, 2008, to the benefit of both our agricultural sectors.”

Among other outcomes, the parties agreed to conduct several technical assistance projects in Mexico in the corn and dry bean areas to help prepare Mexican producers for NAFTA implementation.

The officials also discussed pending US and Mexican farm legislation, biotechnology, and a number of sanitary and phytosanitary issues.

The next US-Mexico CCA meeting, to be hosted by Mexico, is expected to take place November 2007.

The relationship between the United States and Mexico in agriculture is increasingly vital for both countries, with two-way trade in agricultural goods topping $20 billion in 2006.

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