Brazilian farmers lured to Mexico to discuss corn supplies

SAO PAULO, July 24 (Reuters) - A delegation of Brazilian farmers and agriculture cooperatives will visit Mexico next month as the country eyes Brazil as an alternative source of corn to the United States, the head of corn producers association Abramilho said on Tuesday.

Abramilho chief Sergio Bortolozzo said the delegation, mainly from the state of Paraná, will visit Mexico during an industry event in Guanajuato next month to show how Brazilian corn can be competitive.

“We were invited by the Mexican government,” Bortolozzo told Reuters on the sidelines of the Global Agribusiness Forum in São Paulo. “This invitation shows us the Mexican government is looking for alternative suppliers,” he said.

Brazil, which sells about 2 percent of its export corn to Mexico, has seen a boost in its bilateral trade with that nation amid global tensions over U.S. President Donald Trump’s sharp shift of trade policy that threatens to reshape international commercial flows.

Mexican buyers imported 10 times more corn from Brazil last year amid concerns that NAFTA renegotiations could disrupt their U.S. supplies. Still, Mexico buys far more corn from the United States than Brazil, taking in 14.7 million tonnes in 2017, according to U.S. government data.

But Brazil is making strides in growing its share of that trade.

Last year, Bortolozzzo said, a 60-kilo bag of Brazilian corn arrived in Mexico costing only 10 cents more than the U.S. product. “But the quality of the Brazilian corn is superior,” he said.

Brazil’s corn gets sent to Mexico immediately after Brazil’s second corn is harvested, Bortolozzo said, referring to the corn crop that is planted after the summer soy harvest. It is mainly sourced in the center west and shipped through northern ports.

Increasing trade with Mexico also offers an opportunity for Brazilian farmers to diversify clients as 49 percent of Brazil’s corn exports are being bought by a single nation, Iran, government data show.

Brazil is the world’s second largest corn exporter after the United States.

In the first six months of this year, the country exported some 5.2 million tonnes of corn worth $830.5 million, according to government data. (Reporting by Ana Mano Editing by Marguerita Choy)