MEXICO CITY, MEXICO — Mexico started imposing on June 24 a 50% tariff on white corn imports that will be in force until the end of the year, the Associated Press reported.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said the tariff will boost national production and prevent imports of genetically modified (GM) corn.

Earlier this year white corn was exempt from tariffs in an attempt to control inflation. But according to the presidential decree published on June 23, that has not “generated a significant impact on the decrease in prices in the national market, so it’s considered appropriate to eliminate it.”

Mexico is in the midst of a trade dispute with the United States and Canada over GM corn, which it has banned starting in 2024. The United States has said the ban is not based on science and has requested dispute settlement consultations with Mexico under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).  

The tariff goes against the USMCA and could complicate the ongoing trade dispute.

Mexico’s president has said he is not afraid of controversy and has insisted that only domestic white corn should be used for human consumption.

Mexico imports about 17 million tonnes of corn from the United States, most of which is yellow corn. About 5% of that total from the United States is white corn.