U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk announced that Mexico has been invited to join the United States and eight other countries in free trade negotiations under the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). "We are delighted to invite Mexico, our neighbor and second-largest export market, to join the TPP negotiations," Kirk said. "Mexico's interest in the TPP reflects its recognition that the TPP presents the most promising pathway to boosting trade across the Asia Pacific and to encouraging regional trade integration. We look forward to continuing consultations with the Congress and domestic stakeholders as we move forward." In addition to the United States, the current TPP countries are Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.
The United States and Mexico already enjoy free trade in rice as a result of the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and Mexico is the largest single export destination for U.S. rice. Exports of 910,000 metric tons in 2011 were valued at $357 million. Several other nations have expressed interest in joining the negotiations, including Canada and Japan.
U.S. rice exports duty-free to Canada because of the NAFTA, while U.S. sales to Japan, the second-largest country market for U.S. rice exports (362,937 metric tons valued at $293 million last year), face market access constraints.