With 20 percent of the U.S. potato crop destined for foreign consumers, NPC supports multilateral, bilateral, and regional trade agreements that promote fair access for fresh and processed potato exports. Trade policies should encourage countries to set Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs) based on international Codex standards or to harmonize MRLs with U.S. MRLs. The U.S. potato industry is committed to working with registrants to establish MRLs in all key export markets for crop protection products used on potatoes.
NPC cheered the ratification of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) trade pact by all three nations in early 2020. The agreement is expected to stabilize two of the three largest U.S. potato export markets of Canada and Mexico by both eliminating the threat of retaliatory tariffs and precluding the loss of tariff benefits previously provided by NAFTA.
U.S.-Japan Agreement on Agricultural Trade
Japan is the U.S. potato industry’s largest export market with exports totaling over $350 million in 2019. In Dec. 2019, Japan ratified a new bilateral trade agreement with the U.S. that will eventually remove tariffs on U.S. frozen and flaked potatoes. This new Japan Trade Agreement returns the U.S. potato industry to a level playing field with global competitors.
Chipping Potato Access to Japan
In early 2020, Japan announced that U.S. chipping potatoes will be allowed to enter the country year-round. Previously, the import protocol for U.S. chipping potatoes states was from Feb. 1 to July 30 each year. In 2019, the U.S. exported 32,240 metric tons of fresh chipping potatoes, valued at more than $15 million, to Japan. The announcement clarified that the following states are approved to ship fresh potatoes for processing to Japan: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin.
U.S.-China Phase One Agreement
In Jan. 2020, NPC welcomed the signing of the Phase One Agreement reached between the United States and China. China is currently a top 10 export market for potatoes, primarily in processed products. With a combination of competitive tariffs and enhanced market access, China could become a top five market in the near future.
Fresh Potato Access to Mexico
After the Mexican government finally agreed to allow U.S. potatoes full access to their market, Mexico’s potato cartel sued their own government to maintain their domestic monopoly and prevent competition. Those legal cases are now being considered by the Mexican Supreme Court.
NPC is actively working to encourage the Mexican government to defend against those cases and open their market, consistent with their global trade responsibilities. NPC is also urging USDA to oppose granting any reciprocal concessions to Mexican agricultural producers (such as their avocado industry) seeking more access to the U.S., until this protectionist situation is finally resolved and U.S. potato exports receive full access.