The Mexican grain buyers and brewers met with Justin Hansen from the office of Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, staff from the North Dakota Barley Council and staff from the Northern Crops Institute in North Dakota. 
Photos courtesy of USGC.
WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — Mexico purchases barley from the U.S. market more than any other market to support beer as one of its exports to the United States.

A team of Mexican brewing industry leaders is traveling in North Dakota and Montana to call attention to the policy that made this mutually beneficial trading relationship possible — the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

NAFTA is a multi-layer free trade agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico that came into effect in 1994. It was designed to remove tariff barriers and facilitate the cross-border movement of goods and services among the three countries. There has been controversy over the effectiveness of the agreement in ongoing discussions of potential renegotiations.

U.S. President Donald Trump intends to initiate negotiations with Canada and Mexico regarding modernization of NAFTA, according to a May 18 letter submitted to the U.S. Senate by U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer.

A team of barley and malt buyers and brewers from Mexico traveled to the U.S. to talk about their experiences with NAFTA and meet with industry leaders.
The team — organized by the U.S. Grains Council (USGC), the Montana Wheat & Barley Committee and the North Dakota Barley Council — includes representatives from internationally recognizable beer brands as well as Mexico’s largest craft breweries and industry representatives.

“We welcome our guests and customers to the heart of barley country,” said Kimberly Atkins, vice-president and chief operating officer of the USGC. “NAFTA is critical to the U.S. barley industry’s success and an important story of interdependence to share with our farmers and agricultural industry here at home.”

Currently, the terms of NAFTA allow U.S. barley and malt to enter Mexico duty-free, providing a competitive advantage that has fostered an increased integration of the value chains for U.S. barley and malt and Mexican brewing industries.

The team of Mexican grain buyers and brewers visited the Northern Crops Institute in North Dakota.
According to the USGC, Mexico purchased more than 680,000 tonnes, or 31.2 million bushels, of barley valued at $220 million over the last 10 marketing years.  In turn, these exports generated $48 million in additional economic activity through the grain supply chain.

The team will discuss how U.S. barley and malt can continue to meet growing demand in this top market at the Northern Crops Institute in Fargo, North Dakota, U.S. Team members also will educate U.S. representatives on the importance of NAFTA to industries on both sides of the border in meetings at the Montana Ag Summit in Great Falls, Montana, U.S.

“The Mexican brewing industry is strong customer for U.S. barley producers, thanks to the preferential trade terms in NAFTA and three decades of work by USGC,” Atkins said. “In this growing and increasingly competitive market, the market access and tariff benefits U.S. barley producers have under NAFTA must be preserved.”