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
NPC welcomed the news that the first shipments of U.S. fresh potatoes crossed into Mexico on May 11, 2022. The successful crossings signaled the start of Mexico’s process to restore full market access for U.S. fresh potatoes after more than 25 years of disputes and legal obstructions by Mexico. The shipments occurred one year after the Mexican Supreme Court ruled unanimously that U.S. fresh potatoes were legally authorized to be imported.
Mexico is the largest export market for U.S. potatoes and products valued at $394 million in 2021. Despite the previous restriction to the 26-kilometer border region, Mexico was the second-largest market for fresh potato exports in 2021, accounting for 124,449 metric tons valued at $60 million last year. The U.S. potato industry estimates that access to the entire country for fresh U.S. potatoes provides a market potential of $250 million per year, in five years.