Mexico set a record for its corn imports in the 2022-2023 season (which ended on September 30th) and is projected to reach another historic high in the 2023-2024 cycle, according to estimates from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
These peaks will be reached despite Mexico maintaining a decree restricting external purchases of genetically modified corn and a 50% tariff on white corn imports.
Foreign corn purchases to Mexico increased from 17.572 million tons in the 2021-2022 cycle to 18 million tons in the 2022-2023 cycle, and the USDA projects that the amount will further grow to 18.2 million tons in the 2023-2024 marketing year.
On June 23, 2023, the Mexican government announced a 50% import tariff on white corn, effective until the end of 2023.
The tariff does not apply to American corn due to existing free-market commitments under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
In the same announcement, a temporary export tariff on white corn, originally set to expire on June 30, was extended until the end of 2023. Previously, a presidential decree imposed a temporary 50% tariff on Mexican white corn exports from January 16 to June 30, 2023.
According to the decree, the goal is to control the supply, production, and price of white corn in Mexico and, thereby, regulate the prices of various corn-based consumer products, primarily tortillas.
During the first half of the year, the Mexican government faced protests from farmers in Sinaloa, who demanded an expansion of the guaranteed price program for corn since its price had fallen 25% compared to 2022.
For the 2022/2023 campaign, the Mexican government’s estimate for white corn imports is the lowest since 2012.
The average white corn imports for the 2012-2022 season were reported at 830,000 tons per year, while for the 2022/2023 cycle, the Mexican government estimates white corn imports at 490,000 tons, a 40% reduction.
From October 2022 to July 2023, U.S. white corn exports to Mexico decreased by approximately 75% compared to the average of white corn exports during the same period of the 2012/2013 and 2021/2022 seasons.
While these trade dynamics unfold, the governments of Mexico and the United States continue the process of establishing a dispute settlement panel on genetically modified corn imports to the Mexican market, with a final resolution expected around mid-March 2024.
As farmers in northern Mexico make decisions about their fall/winter planting, a small amount of planted area may shift to crops that require less water, such as wheat, sunflower, safflower, chickpeas, and barley.