On February 28, Mexico’s Secretariat of Economy (SE) announced an amendment to length of a previous authorization under which Mexican companies can import 300,000 metric tons of poultry (specifically, chicken) meat duty-free, via a tariff rate quota (TRQ) regime, according to USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report. The TRQ should not significantly affect U.S. exports, the report noted. Mexican authorities have indicated the announcement is more about keeping domestic poultry prices in check and to allow imports as necessary.

FAS explained that on May 15, 2013, Mexico’s SE announced a modification to the General Import and Export Tax Law to allow the duty-free import of poultry meat, via a TRQ certificate. As a follow-up to this decree, on May 16 last year SE published an announcement that confirmed the amount of poultry meat to be imported under the TRQ. The harmonized tariff system (HTS) codes covered by this TRQ announcement are for fresh, chilled, or frozen chicken meat, cuts, and edible offal.

Mexico’s imports of poultry meat from the United States are likely to continue unimpeded as, under NAFTA, U.S. poultry meat is exempt from this TRQ. It is not expected that U.S. exports (primarily mechanically separated poultry and chicken leg quarters) will face significant additional international competition in the Mexican market despite the ability of Brazil and others to take advantage of this TRQ. Up until November 2013, approximately 6 months of the initial TRQ announcement, Brazil was only able to export 124 metric tons of frozen chicken cuts and offal to Mexico, presumably all under this 300,000 tons TRQ, whereas the United States exported 773,600 tons of all poultry and offal to Mexico during the period January to November 2013.

The only countries with which Mexico has currently negotiated a zoosanitary protocol for poultry meat and offal are Argentina (dehydrated poultry meat); Brazil (raw and dehydrated poultry meat, only); Canada (poultry meat and offal subject to thermal treatment and/or processing); Chile (poultry meat and offal); and the United States (poultry meat and offal). The GAIN Report is available here.