September 12,2003

Senator Raises Agriculture Concerns with Mexico's Economy Minister

(Cancun, Mexico) As a lead proponent of expanding agricultural trade opportunities for Montanaand the nation, U.S. Senator Max Baucus, Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee andsenior member of Senate Agriculture Committee, met today with Fernando Canales, Mexico'sMinister of the Economy.

In the meeting, Baucus focused on the ongoing agricultural trade disputes between Americaand Mexico and urged Señor Canales to work with the Mexican and American government toestablish long-term, workable solutions. Baucus is in Mexico attending the World TradeOrganization's Ministerial Conference.

"In recent years, I've become concerned by the protectionist trend the Mexican government ismoving toward," Baucus said. "A number of U.S. agricultural commodities have faced unreasonableimport barriers in Mexico, which is harmful to my state of Montana and to the nation as a whole.Mexico is Montana's biggest export market for beef and dry beans. I'm hopeful that our countrieswill be able to resolve these disputes in an efficient and straight forward manner."

One major issue of concern that Baucus raised has to do with an agreement that was reachedbetween the U.S. and Mexico during the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)negotiations. Under the terms of the agreement, Mexico was granted duty-free access to a limited,large volume of American sugar. The exact conditions are currently under dispute, which isharming both American producers and Mexican consumers.

"The problems surrounding our NAFTA sugar agreement are symptomatic of a largerproblem," Baucus said. "It's essential that America and Mexico work hard together to resolve ouragriculture trade issues. The Senate Finance Committee will be holding a hearing this month toreview the status of each commodity and find a way to reach an agreement that works for both of ourcountries.

"I'm pleased that I had the chance to meet with Señor Canales in person in Mexico.Agriculture is the backbone of Montana's economy and the faster we can find solutions for our twocountries, the better it is for our economy and our citizens on both sides of the border."