MEXICO CITY -- Mexico’s foreign secretary has announced he will travel to Washington, D.C., on Friday in a last-ditch effort to resolve a dispute over imports of U.S. corn before a scheduled visit next month by U.S. President Joe Biden.
Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said Monday that he will travel to the U.S. capital with other Mexican officials to try to find “points of agreement on genetically modified corn and other issues.”
The leaders of Canada, Mexico and the United States are scheduled to meet in Mexico City on Jan. 9-10.
Mexico sparked the dispute when it announced plans to ban imports of GM corn for human consumption and perhaps eventually for animal feed as well.
Mexico cites health concerns, but such a trade restriction could violate the U.S.-Mexico-Canada free trade agreement. Mexico has been importing U.S. GM feed corn for years, buying about $3 billion worth annually, and is the single biggest export market for U.S. corn.
Mexico hopes to stave off a full-fledged trade complaint under the agreement on that issue as well as a dispute over Mexico’s energy sector.
The United States says Mexico is unfairly favoring its state-owned electricity and oil companies over American competitors and clean-energy suppliers. Canada also has joined in that complaint.
The U.S. initially requested talks in July, but they have so far not yielded any solution. The United States could demand an arbitration panel, and the dispute could end in trade sanctions against Mexico.
López Obrador exchanged letters with Biden on Monday, to mark the 200th anniversary of the two nations establishing diplomatic relations in 1822, following Mexico's independence from Spain.
In his letter, López Obrador proposed that both nations agree on a “plan for import replacements, so that in the whole continent of North America, we produce everything we consume.”