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Mexico’s beef with American beef

8 June 2013

Is this a bad thing?

Via Reuters:

Mexico’s Economy Ministry said on Friday it was considering suspending preferential trade tariffs with the United States for a variety of products in a simmering dispute over meat labeling.

The disagreement stems from a 2009 U.S. requirement that retail outlets specify the country of origin on labels on meat and other products in an effort to give consumers more information about the safety and origin of their food.

Canada and Mexico have complained to the World Trade Organization that the COOL (country-of-origin labeling) rules discriminated against imported livestock.

The trade body ordered the United States to comply with WTO rules by May 23, but the U.S. government made revisions that Canada and Mexico say would only make the situation worse.

american20cow1919Mexico and Canada are seeking the WTO’s support in their case and the Mexican Economy Ministry said if the U.S. government is found to be in the wrong, Mexico would react.

For this reason, the ministry said in a statement it was considering suspending preferential tariffs for a broad variety of produce including fruit and vegetables, juice, meat, dairy products, machinery, furniture, household goods, among others.

I’m something of a minority  in saying this (at least among foreigners in Mexico), but dropping tariffs on U.S. agricultural imports was probably the worst things that’s happened to this country in this millenia.  And that definitely includes the so-called drug war.  If anything, it was flooding this country with subsidized U.S. agricultural products that forced rural Mexicans to turn to narcotics exports as one of the few agricultural exports that could compete in the “free market” (you know… allowing U.S. corporate farmers — with export tax credits, fuel subsidies and corporate tax breaks — to “compete” with small producers who lost their price guarantees.   And, the alarming rise in diabetes and obesity, as cheap junk food from the U.S. has replaced the relatively nutritious (or at least non-frutose based) Mexican junk food.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Karl Neufeld permalink
    8 June 2013 9:47 am

    Fully agree with everything you said. It seems that Mexico and Canada are constantly fighting the US over these “free trade” issues. The US is only happy when the agreement greatly benefits them.
    Signed; “a blue eyed Mexican (Canadian)”

  2. 9 June 2013 10:00 pm

    NAFTA’s corn tariff removal was disastrous for Mexican farmers, driving (various studies) 1.5 to 2 million from their land to seek survival in cities and the USA.

    This is an article from 2011, but it tells the story:

    http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/02/01/107871/free-trade-us-corn-flows-south.html#.UbVNUpwQPa8

    As does this one from 2006:
    http://www.commondreams.org/views06/0425-30.htm

    And a thorough report from 2004:
    http://www.cipamericas.org/archives/1009

    Massively US-govt subsidized corn has rushed in to supplant many local growers. And since cheap imported corn can be purchased in a few large transactions, why bother with all those little transactions with widely-flung subsistence farmers?

    Most “big solutions” are mistakes. NAFTA was one. “Free Trade” in the name means that workers are being screwed over again. Politicians love the free movement of goods and capital. But labor is out of luck, as are working conditions, the environment, an local economies.

  3. Bebe permalink
    10 June 2013 5:54 pm

    At the time I thought NAFTA would benefit all three countries through investment and integration. I repent with many mea culpas on my knees. The US benefited, Canada went its own way, and Mexico got embarazado ( this is an euphemism for what I really mean). I hope the WTO might rule in Mexico’s favor, but the reality unfortunately might be otherwise. Meanwhile, I faithfully buy tomatoes from Mexico rather than Florida. I’d rather California produce, but we decided to build tract houses and tilt-up buildings on some of our richest soil. There remain good reasons for agricultural protections (though subsidies are questionable).

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