Mexico looking at Argentina and Brazil as an alternative for US corn

Mexican politicians are saber rattling against the US agriculture sector, and it looks like Argentina is ready to fill the gap. In effect Mexico’s agriculture minister said on Thursday he will lead a business delegation to Argentina and Brazil to explore buying yellow corn, part of a drive to lessen Mexico’s U.S. dependence given uncertainty over President Donald Trump’s trade policies.

The trip will happen within the next 20 days, Agriculture Secretary Jose Calzada said, adding that the government could explore quotas and changing the tariff regime for imports from South America if needed.

On Sunday the Mexican senator Armando Rios Piter, who leads a congressional committee on foreign relations, says he would introduce a bill this week, to shift corn import demand to Brazil and Argentina instead of the United States.

“I’m going to send a bill for the corn that we are buying in the Midwest and…change to Brazil or Argentina,” Rios Piter told CNN.

“Mexican politicians are toying with the idea of buying their corn from South America instead of the US to teach the US President a lesson in unintended consequences,” said Tobin Gorey, at Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

However on Wednesday Marisa Bircher, Argentina’s secretary of agro-industrial markets, said that the country hopes to increase exports to Mexico. Argentina exported less than 100,000 tons of corn to Mexico last year.

“Corn is obviously a sector that is on the list to have greater access and gain a bit more space for Argentina, regardless of the presence of the US market,” Ms Bircher said.

Ms Bircher said there was also potential for poultry and beef exports to Mexico.

Mexico last year imported 13 million tons of yellow corn, of which 12.75 million tons were provided by US farmers with a bill of US$ 2.3bn.

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