Mexico is about to reach the United States, where it hurts: corn.
Mexico is today one of the largest buyers of American corn in the world. And Mexican Senator Armando Rios Piter, who leads a congressional foreign affairs committee, says he will introduce a bill this week where Mexico will buy corn from Brazil and Argentina instead of the United States.
It is one of the first signs of possible concrete action by Mexico in response to President Trump’s threats against the country.
“I’m going to send a bill for the corn we’re buying in the Midwest and … it’s going to change in Brazil or Argentina,” Rios Piter, 43, told CNN’s Leyla Santiago on Sunday. anti-Trump protest in Mexico City.
He added: “It’s a good way to tell them that this hostile relationship has consequences, hopefully it will change.”
American corn enters many of the country’s foods. In Mexico City, from restaurants with kitchens to taco stalls on the street, you can find favorite corn-based tacos like tacos everywhere.
Related: Daughter of a Mexican farmer: NAFTA destroyed us
America is also the world’s largest producer and exporter of corn. U.S. corn shipments to Mexico have been catapulted since NAFTA, a free trade agreement signed between Mexico, America and Canada.
U.S. farmers shipped $ 2.45 billion worth of corn to Mexico in 2015, the most recent year of available data. In 1995, the year after NAFTA became law, corn exports to Mexico were only $ 391 million.
Experts say this bill would be very costly for American farmers.
“If we actually see a trade war where Mexico starts buying in Brazil … we will see that it affects the corn market and it goes out to the rest of the agricultural economy,” says Darin Newsom, chief analyst at DTN, a company of agricultural management.
The Rios Piter bill is another sign of Mexico’s willingness to respond to Trump’s threats. Trump wants Mexico to pay a wall at the border and is threatened by taxes on Mexican imports ranging from 20% to 35%.
Related: Mexico duplicates Trump’s “contingency plan.”
Still, Trump says he wants a better trade deal for the American worker, though he hasn’t said what a better deal is.
All parties noted two weeks ago that negotiations would begin in May after a 90-day consultation period.
But Trump says if negotiations do not lead to the deal he wants, he threatens to withdraw from NAFTA.
Mexican leaders, like Rios Piter, don’t get such a tough conversation. He is not alone. Mexico’s economy minister, Ildefonso Guajardo, said that in January, Mexico would respond “immediately” to Trump’s tariffs.
“It is clear that we must be prepared to be able to immediately neutralize the impact of a measure of this nature,” Guajardo said said Jan. 13 in a Mexican current affairs program.
–Shasta Darlington helped report this story
CNNMoney (Mexico City) First published on February 13, 2017: 12:06 ET