Mexico's cattle industry faces a struggle to disentangle its
"symbiotic" relationship with its northern neighbour, as the country seeks to diversify
both its import and export channels.
On Thursday, Mexico's Agricultural Secretary Jose Calzada announced
a plan to seek alternative export relationships to the US, urging Mexican farmers
need to emerge from their "comfort zone".
This year will see the launch of talks to renegotiate the
North American Free Trade Agreement, which includes Mexico, Canada, and the
Mexican cattle supply and demand forecasts, USDA Mexico City Bureau
Live cattle imports (1,000 head) 30 33
Live cattle exports (1,000 head) 1,000 1,000
Cattle ending stocks (1,000 head) 16,620 16,850
Beef production (1,000 tonnes) 18,79 1,910
Beef imports (1,000 tonnes) 190 190
Beef exports (1,000 tonnes) 255 290
US President Donald Trump ran in part on a platform of renegotiating
this deal, and potentially pulling out of it if compromises cannot be made.
A breakdown of trade relations between the US and Mexico would
be a particular threat to the country's entwined beef industries.
Middle East, Russia
The threat of trade barriers is encouraging the Mexican government
to search for alternative outlets.
"We have increased and accelerated country visits with
the objective of diversifying even more quickly" Mr Calzada told a press conference.
Officials have already made trade-promotion visits to
Colombia, Argentina, Chile, and the Arabian peninsula, Mr Calzada said, specifically
citing the potential to sell up to $1bn of halal meat to Muslim nations in the Middle
Last year, Mexico obtained third-party certification for
Halal slaughter (beef and poultry), with plans to grow the number of facilities
from about 10 to about 130 by the end of the year.
Mr Calzada also noted Russia as a market for Mexican beef,
as a quid-pro-quo for importing Russian wheat.
Russia is interested in 300,000 tonnes of Mexican beef,
beyond the country's current export capacity, the minister said.
"The cattle and beef sectors in the US and Mexico
have a long and symbiotic history," the USDA's Mexico City bureau said this
Cattle and their products criss-cross the border, in in complicated
Breeding cattle and semen are imported in large volumes from
the US, to improve Mexican genetics.
Offspring born and pastured in Mexico are then shipped back
north, to gain weight on grain in US feedlots.
After slaughter in the US, beef is shipped back to Mexico,
along with leather, which is often returned to the US in the form of finished
But the threat posed by such dependence on what is currently
looking like a shaky trade relationship is spurring a drive to diversify.
"Although efforts to diversify both imports and exports are
a longterm trend, they have intensified in early 2017," said the bureau.
In response to interest in the implications for agriculture of Mr Trump's presidency, and broader political trends, Agrimoney.com will next month produce a report 2017 Outlook for global agribusiness: Agricultural trade in the era of Trump and Brexit.
To register your interest for the forthcoming report please contact Rainy Gill at: firstname.lastname@example.org