The Mexican Senate's Trade and Industrial Development Committee has voted down a bilateral trade treaty with Peru.

The panel rejected the trade accord by a vote of 7-5 with the argument that Mexico's agricultural sector is at a competitive disadvantage versus its Peruvian counterpart.

Mexico's agriculture and fishing sectors had lobbied the Senate not to ratify the treaty, saying it would adversely affect "sensitive products" such as chili peppers, beans, plantains, onions, avocados, potatoes, mangos and grapes.

The vote was the result of pressure exerted by an interest group within a single sector, Mexican Economy Secretary Bruno Ferrari said.

In a joint press conference, Ferrari and Agriculture Secretary Francisco Mayorga said the agreement would spur companies' competitiveness and boost families' development and living standards.

The economy secretary said Peruvian farmers do not pose a threat to Mexican agriculture, noting that the Andean nation "is a strategic ally" with which Mexico should forge deeper ties.

Ferrari said Mexico's agricultural sector is five times bigger than Peru's and he urged lawmakers to build support for ratifying the treaty, which needs the committee's approval to pass the Senate.

The trade pact was the result of five years of intense negotiations that concluded with the signing of the treaty on April 6 in Lima.

Rejecting the pact would jeopardize Mexico's leadership on other initiatives to spur integration and open markets in which Peru also is a strategic partner, he said.

Such is the case with the Pacific Alliance, a pact that also comprises two other pro-business nations, Chile and Colombia, and represents for Mexico a potential market of 93 million people, Ferrari added.

For his part, the agriculture secretary urged farmers to reflect on the consequences if the trade agreement is ultimately rejected.