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Potential Trade Changes Could Affect Valley Businesses

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WESLACO – One Rio Grande Valley businessman is concerned with how the future of trade between U.S. and Mexico will affect his way of life.

Stratfor reports Mexico’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Trade, Juan Carlos Baker, told the World Trade Organization, Mexico might erase trade barriers with Brazil and Argentina.

According to Octavio Garcia, a local AG exporter, the move would affect him and others in the Valley.

For 22 years, Garcia has run Garcia Grain Trading out of Donna and Progreso. He said NAFTA has made his business a success. The vast majority of his work over the years was done south of the border.

“Ninety-eight percent goes to Mexico,” he said. “We do about half a million metric tons of all the products - cotton seed, corn, milo.”

Garcia said he would have to look for another market if Mexico stopped trading with the U.S. He said the system of trade with Mexico is very efficient; one reason is the nation is next door.

He said losing the ability to bring corn down from other parts of the state for trade would be a setback.

“It wouldn’t be good. It would be very devastating, especially for us here in the border,” Garcia said.

Shannon O’Neil, with the Council of Foreign Relations, said Mexico is negotiating with Argentina and Brazil already.

She said losing NAFTA, and likely raising tariffs, could take a top customer of America away.

“Mexico buys roughly $18 billion worth of agricultural goods. So it’s our third largest market for agricultural goods,” O’Neil explained. “NAFTA is incredibly important for agricultural products. That’s one of the areas you see the biggest increase in sales to Mexico from the United States.”

O’Neil added if NAFTA negotiations fall apart, a lot of jobs will go away in Texas related to Mexican trade too.

She said Mexico doesn’t want a trade war. She added its officials are working with the Trump Administration to come up with an agreement to keep its deal with the U.S. alive. 

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