Mexico ready to retaliate by hurting US corn growers

Mexico ready to retaliate by hurting US corn growers
Protests against Trump take place across Mexico

Mexico is ready to get to the United States where it hurts: corn.

Mexico is one of the top buyers of US corn in the world today. And Mexican Senator Armando Ríos Piter, who heads a congressional committee on foreign relations, says he will introduce a bill this week in which Mexico will buy corn from Brazil and Argentina instead of the United States.

It is one of the first signs of possible concrete action by Mexico in response to President Trump’s threats against the country.

“I will send an invoice for the corn we are buying in the Midwest and (…) move to Brazil or Argentina,” Rios Piter, 43, told CNN’s Leyla Santiago on Sunday in a protest against Trump in Mexico City.

He added: It is a “good way to tell them that this hostile relationship has consequences, I hope it will change.”

American corn is used for much of the country’s food. In Mexico City, from haute cuisine restaurants to street taco stands, corn-based favorites like tacos can be found everywhere.

Related: daughter of the Mexican farmer: NAFTA destroyed us

The United States is also the world’s largest producer and exporter of corn. Shipments of US corn to Mexico have been catapulted from NAFTA, a free trade agreement signed between Mexico, the United States, and Canada.

US farmers shipped $ 2.4 billion of corn to Mexico in 2015, the most recent year of available data. In 1995, a year after NAFTA became law, corn exports to Mexico were only $ 391 million.

Experts say such a bill would be very expensive for American farmers.

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“If we see a trade war in which Mexico starts buying from Brazil … we will see that it affects the corn market and will spread to the rest of the agricultural economy,” says Darin Newsom, senior analyst at DTN, an agricultural management company. .

The Ríos Piter bill is another sign of Mexico’s willingness to respond to Trump’s threats. Trump wants to make Mexico pay for a border wall, and has threatened taxes on Mexican imports ranging from 20% to 35%.

Trump also wants renegotiate NAFTA. He blames him for an avalanche of manufacturing jobs in Mexico. A non-partisan congress investigation report found that is not true.

Related: Mexico Doubles Trump’s ‘Contingency Plan’

Still, Trump says he wants a better business deal for the American worker, though he hasn’t said what a better deal looks like.

All parties noted two weeks ago that negotiations would begin in May after a 90-day consultation period.

But Trump says if the negotiations don’t have the deal he wants, he threatens to withdraw from NAFTA.

Such a tough conversation is not well received by Mexican leaders like Ríos Piter. He is not alone. Mexico’s economy minister Ildefonso Guajardo said in January that Mexico would respond “immediately” to any Trump tariff.

“It is very clear that we have to be prepared to be able to immediately neutralize the impact of a measure of this nature,” Guajardo he said on January 13 in a Mexican newscast.

Shasta Darlington helped inform this story.

CNNMoney (Mexico City) First published on February 13, 2017: 12:06 p.m. ET

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