NAFTA kicks in, Mexican farmers protest
The full introduction of the North American Free Trade Agreement (nafta) has raised concerns among Mexico's farmers who are agitating against it. With nafta kicking in fully on January 1, 2008, all tariffs on us agricultural exports to Mexico have been phased out.
Many farmers organized scattered protests, while about 1,500 farmers threatened to file lawsuits for damages resulting from the agreement. The lawsuits seek legal protection against the agreement which, the farmers say, will lead to the collapse of the country's agricultural sector. End of the farm trade restrictions under nafta violates article 27 of the Mexican constitution, which calls for the state to support the farming sector by generating jobs and promoting the rural activity, they say.
Gradual elimination of trade barriers began in 1994, when the treaty among the us, Mexican and Canadian governments first took effect. With the final trade barriers lifted, Mexican farmers now fear that us agricultural produce such as corn, beans, sugar and milk will have free access to the country's market. This will affect local farmers who cannot hope to compete with their American counterparts who get huge subsidies from the us government.
Various Mexican farmers' organizations are urging the government to renegotiate the treaty. The Secretariat of Foreign Relations in a statement, however, said that the agreement has provided invaluable benefits to Mexico and re-opening negotiations will severely harm the country.