Mexico is ready to hit the US where it hurts: Corn.
Mexico is one of the best buyers of American corn today. And Mexican Senator Armando Rios Peter, who heads Congressional Foreign Relations Committee, says he will introduce a bill this week where Mexico will buy corn from Brazil and Argentina instead of the United States.
This is one of the first signs of potential concrete action by Mexico in response to President Trump’s threats to that country.
“I’m going to send a bill for corn we buy in the Midwest and … change to Brazil or Argentina,” Rios Peter, 43, told CNN’s Leyla Santiago on Sunday in anti-Trump protest in Mexico City.
He added, “It’s a good way to tell them that this hostile relationship has consequences, that it will change. ”
American corn is becoming a major food in the country. In Mexico City, from the best dining restaurants to taco stalls on the street, you can find your favorite corn-based favorites like tacos everywhere.
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America is also the world’s largest producer and exporter of corn. U.S. corn shipments to Mexico were catapulted from NAFTA, a free trade agreement signed between Mexico, America, and Canada.
U.S. farmers sent $ 2.4 billion worth of corn to Mexico in 2015, the last year of available data. In 1995, a year after NAFTA became law, corn exports to Mexico amounted to just $ 391 million.
Experts say such a bill would be very expensive for U.S. farmers.
“If we really see a trade war where Mexico starts buying from Brazil … we’ll see it affect the corn market and relieve the rest of the agribusiness,” says Darin Newsom, a senior analyst at DTN, an agricultural management company.
Rios Peter’s bill is another sign of Mexico’s readiness to respond to Trump’s threats. Trump wants to force Mexico to pay for the wall at the border, and he is threatened with a tax on Mexican imports ranging from 20% to 35%.
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Still, Trump says he wants a better trade deal for the American worker – though he hasn’t said what a better deal looks like.
All parties announced two weeks ago that negotiations would begin in May after a 90-day consultation period.
But Trump says if the negotiations do not submit to the agreement he wants, he threatens to withdraw from NAFTA.
Mexican leaders like Rios Peter have not received such firm talks. He is not alone. Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said Mexico would “immediately” respond to any tariffs from Trump in January.
“It is very clear that we must be prepared to be able to immediately neutralize the impact of a measure of this nature,” Guajardo he said Jan. 13 on Mexican news.
– Shasta Darlington contributed to the reporting of this story
CNNMoney (Mexico City) First published February 13, 2017 at 12:06 pm ET